Presbytery overture seeks immediate end to executions

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A Presbyterian Church (USA) presbytery is asking this summer’s General Assembly (221st) to call for a “an immediate moratorium on all executions in all jurisdictions that impose capital punishment.”

Overture 026 from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta also asks for Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons to communicate the call for a moratorium – including the denomination’s opposition to capital punishment – to the United States President, Congress and the governors and legislators of the 34 states with persons on death row.

While giving thanks that 18 states have abolished the death penalty, the overture’s rationale states that “we believe that one of the greatest tragedies that can occur is the execution of an innocent person by the state, yet we know that this has occurred repeatedly throughout history. Human judgment is always fallible, including the judgments of juries and judges deciding death penalty cases. It has been recognized by numerous authoritative sources that the death penalty has been imposed in a racially discriminatory manner.”

It concludes that, “As Christians, we recognize God as sovereign in all spheres of human life, including the political sphere. We declare that God’s commandment against killing is still good law. We follow a Lord who taught us to go beyond ‘an eye for an eye.’ We believe that human individuals and institutions are sinful and make mistakes. And, as humans, we lack any power to correct our errors if we wrongly execute another human being.”

If a second PCUSA presbytery concurs with the overture, then the 2014 assembly will consider the measure at its meeting June 14-21 in Detroit, Mich.

According to the Office of the General Assembly, “A Book of Order amendment that went into effect on July 7, 2013, states that overtures from presbyteries will require a concurrence from at least one other presbytery (see G-3.0302d) before being referred to the assembly.”

The PCUSA’s General Assembly official web site can be found here. The Layman’s coverage of the 2013 GA can be accessed here.




Comments 11

  • @ Rev. Pat
    Do your research. In Chicago in 2013 there were 415 murders—not 900.
    This is an article about capital punishment and rather than having a rational argument, you just throw bombs and misinformation. Pathetic.

  • People who end up on death row are the beneficiaries of a series of very bad choices that THEY made.
    Now, they have to accept the responsibility of their decisions (something not seemingly taught in this country).

    God’s commandment is not against ‘killing’; it’s against murder, (look at the original Aramaic/Hebrew) otherwise we would be guilty of a commandment violation every time we ate a chicken or a fish (Jesus comes to mind).
    “It has been recognized by numerous authoritative sources that the death penalty is imposed in a racially discriminatory manner.” This quote is ambiguous nonsense. “numerous authoritative sources…” is meaningless to anyone over three years old. The only racial discrimination is the out-of-bounds crime perpetrated by blacks (much on their own people)! Black-on-black crime is endemic! More blacks were shot and killed in Chicago last year (900?) than we lost in Afghanistan.

    Are you interested in saving innocent lives? Don’t look at death row. Look to the rampant abortion industry.

  • Again, PCUSA does not speak for me in this matter. Where does PCUSA get off asking for curtailment, when they are guilty of so much themselves? If we executed more, and quicker, those convicted of certain heinous crimes, the world would be a better place for the rest of us.

  • The system worked…one example please of an innocent person executed in modern era.

  • The Republican Governor of Illinois halted executions in the early 2000′ when it was proven that more than 100 people who were on death row were demonstrably innocent. The Innocence Project has found over 150 people who were proven innocent in the last 18 years.

  • Correction –

    *sounds instead of sound

    *me instead of be

  • Did they name one proven example in the modern era when an innocent person was put to death? On the flip side, are there examples of convicted killers who kill again? As for the alleged racially discriminatory application of the death penalty, the solution is quite simple. People should not commit capital crimes. I know that sound far-fetched, but if a minority group is concerned about their high incarceration rates, then they shouldn’t commit crime. By the way, I also favor the death penalty for repeat pedophiles. Call be old fashioned, but I think it’s a fair trade-off…the life of one pedophile for countless lives of children scarred and abused.

  • What moral position is the Presbyterian Church USA in to call for a moratorium on executions. Is this not the same denomination that allows for no-fault divorces and champions abortion; which is claimed well over 50 million American lives since the infamous Roe V Wade decision? How can the PC USA rail against the death penalty, in the name of the sanctity of life, while at the same time endorsing a lifestyle choice that perverts the very mechanisms of life itself? This is the very type of moral maladroitness and hypocrisy- laden inconsistency which caused and is accelerating its hemorrhaging. Perhaps the goddess Sophia has the answer. The Bible, evidently, is the last place they’d think to look. Thank God for the OPC!!

  • An economist whose name I forget likes to say “there are no solutions — only trade-offs.” It’s a valuable maxim that should be applied to virtually any problem of even slight complexity. Ending the death penalty will solve the problem (whose magnitude is subject to dispute) of executing innocent people. But it may well have unintended consequences resulting in even more innocent people being victimized. To ignore the trade-off is to pursue an outcome that feels good, but may be more harmful in the long run.

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