September 21st, 2011

Troy Davis and Death Penalty Bloodlust


photo credit: Amnesty International

At a recent debate for Republican presidential candidates, Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked a question regarding the death penalty. Moderator Brian Williams noted that Texas “has executed 234 death row inmates—more than any other governor in modern times.” Interestingly, the audience immediately broke out into applause.

Applause.

That may be an appropriate reaction, assuming that every one of those individuals was in fact guilty of the crime for which they had been convicted. But the moderator continued with his question that takes a different angle. Perry was asked: “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

His immediate reply, “No sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” shows an alarming callousness towards the power assumed by government to execute an individual. His elaborated response, regarding some of the process used preceding the imposition of death, was followed up by another round of applause.

Applause. Not at the thought of executing a truly guilty felon, but at the rejection of the idea that one or more of those 234 individuals may have in fact been innocent.

In the United States, there have been 273 post-conviction DNA exonerations—situations in which a convicted criminal turned out to in fact be innocent, proven by DNA analysis. 273 innocent individuals—surely a small sample of how many exist within our “justice” system—accused and convicted of having committed a crime in which they in fact played no part. 273 people suffering a sentence for something they did not do.

This is one thing when you’re in a jail cell being well fed and taken care of at the taxpayer’s expense. It’s another thing entirely when that conviction leads to death. The prevalence of reversed convictions should give pause to anybody who supports the death penalty to any degree:

As of October 2010, 138 individuals in 26 states since 1973 have been freed from death row after being incarcerated an average of nearly 10 years, and analysis by the Innocence Project casts grave doubts on whether the death penalty is reliably imposed. Since 1989, 17 people on death row have had their convictions overturned by DNA testing alone. More broadly, between 1977 and 1999, 80 Americans sentenced to death were later released when proven innocent (through either DNA testing or other methods), while 553 were executed. The ratio in the state of Illinois over the same period was much more alarming: 12 inmates were executed while 13 death row prisoners were exonerated.

Rick Perry sleeps just fine at night, not caring about such statistics. One can only imagine his cold indifference towards last night’s execution of Troy Davis, a man convicted of killing a police officer in Savannah, Georgia in 1989. Davis’ case had caught international intentional due to the extremely unsettling circumstances: reports of police misconduct, key witnesses changing their story and reports from other witnesses that somebody else had confessed to the crime. The New York Times editorial describes the situation:

The grievous errors in the Davis case were numerous, and many arose out of eyewitness identification. The Savannah police contaminated the memories of four witnesses by re-enacting the crime with them present so that their individual perceptions were turned into a group one. The police showed some of the witnesses Mr. Davis’s photograph even before the lineup. His lineup picture was set apart by a different background. The lineup was also administered by a police officer involved in the investigation, increasing the potential for influencing the witnesses.

Seven of nine witnesses against Mr. Davis recanted after trial. Six said the police threatened them if they did not identify Mr. Davis. The man who first told the police that Mr. Davis was the shooter later confessed to the crime. There are other reasons to doubt Mr. Davis’s guilt: There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime introduced at trial, and new ballistics evidence broke the link between him and a previous shooting that provided the motive for his conviction.

Troy Davis may very well have been guilty. But the government’s claim of authority (assuming it to even be legitimate) to end the life of another individual must be checked, re-checked, and repeatedly questioned—especially when significant or suspicious information is presented which throws the integrity of the conviction into question.

And so what if he was innocent? That means that despite the petitions, the protests, and the congressmen and celebrities asking for clemency, and despite the international alarm generated over Davis’ case, the government snuffed out the life of a man who did not do what a few black-robed lawyers called “judges” thought he did.

Troy Davis has now been sent to meet his true Judge, who knows whether or not he indeed was guilty of the crime for which his life was ended early.

Meanwhile, certain Republican candidates and supporters sleep easy and applaud.

How disturbing.

23 Responses to “Troy Davis and Death Penalty Bloodlust”

  1. Pat Lynch
    September 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    It is uplifting to read on a site that claims to have a connection with the Gospel and the scriptures of the Bible, that recognizes that there is something inherently wrong with anyone who, in authority, has no sense of caring about the life of any human being — particularly when they order the execution of a person. Can those individuals claim to be “human?” When the scripture say “Thou shalt not kill,” it didn’t add — except if a government entity says it’s “legal,” — can those people claim to be followers of any religion? Should those people be part of any governing body? It’s time we come to grips with this issue now. Thank you for raising the issue!

  2. Eran
    September 22, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/20/prosecutor-says-he-has-no-doubt-about-troy-davis-guilt/

    As long as we have humans doing the work of justice there will be innocent people convicted.

  3. September 23, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I see the value in analyzing this particular case and pointing out the possibility of executing an innocent man, but I think that discussion is superfluous to a discussion on the basic principles justifying the use of the death penalty.

    Let me explain. I believe in the right to self defense, even to the point of using deadly force. I carry a gun. I’ve been trained to use it to kill an aggressor in the event that I believe that my life or the life of my family members (or other innocent people) is in danger.

    While it may seem extremely unlikely I have to admit that it is within the realm of possibility that I could misread a situation and misread the intentions of a supposed aggressor and I could kill an innocent person.

    That argument does not lead me to believe that it is wrong of me to carry a gun and to make a split-second decision to kill someone that I believe is posing an immenent danger to my life.

    So there are really two questions that should be answered.

    #1 Is the US government justified in exercising the death penalty? Is it the right thing to do? If so, why? If not, why not? I can tell you that if your answer is simply, No, because it is possible that an innocent person will be executed, then I can’t agree with your logic.

    #2 If the death penalty is justified, then how do you find the proper balance between sentencing those that deserve the death penalty and taking care not to sentence those that don’t?

    I would like to hear, on what basic principles one would rule out the death penalty completely.

    To refute this comment above by Pat Lynch, ‘When the scripture say “Thou shalt not kill,” it didn’t add — except if a government entity says it’s “legal,”…’

    I would say that the scripture also does not say –except if a person is trying to kill you. But I believe that killing other people is sometimes not only justified, but required. I think the scriptures are repleat with such examples. The point is that the “Thou shalt not kill” commandment is clearly a general principle to live by, but is clearly not an entire, all-encompassing principle that applies to all situations.

    So, back to my question. What is the basic principle that makes the death penalty wrong?

  4. September 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Also, in response to Pat Lynch’s question above, “can those people claim to be followers of any religion?”

    I think they can claim to be followers of the LDS religion.

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes of civil law. We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment.”
    “Public Issues,” http://www.lds.org (accessed July 25, 2008)

  5. Jim Davis
    September 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    JJL9,

    I don’t have a solid opinion on the matter of capital punishment but my following comments will show you which direction I lean.

    You brought up the point of using deadly force as a means of defense. I agree with this point. I also carry a gun to neutralize potential aggressors who would harm myself or my family… But capital punishment is not an act of defense once the threat has been neutralized.

    When a person is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death it leaves the realm of defense and enters the realm of “justice”. What I would like you to distinguish for me is- what is the difference between this type of “justice” and vengeance? God said “Vengeance is mine”. Is it unacceptable to enact vengeance as individuals but completely acceptable to enact vengeance when society calls it justice? I struggle seeing the difference.

  6. John W. Redelfs
    September 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    The number of times an innocent man has been executed is a very small number, and most who claim otherwise cannot produce any evidence to back up their claim. Those rare cases where someone is executed in error just illustrate that men are imperfect, and make mistakes even when the greatest of care is taken. In itself that does not mean capital punishment should be done away. Undoubtedly more rock climbers fall to their death each year, but no one suggests that rock climbing be done away. Many similar examples could be given.

    The underlying assumption of many is that the worst thing that could possibly happen to a person is that he be executed in error. But that is a bad assumption. There are many who lay down their lives for their friends and family. Death before dishonor was a concept widely understood and held until recently. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” He correctly thought that being dead was preferrable to being unfree, a slave. But that is voluntary, some might protest. Death comes to every man regardless of whether he is guilty or innocent. And when it comes, how often is it volutary? Murderers do not go to prison voluntarily. Those who are raped and murdered in our prisons are not submitting voluntarily. Is it wrong to put a murderer in prison even though there is some small chance that he is innocent? What are the realistic alternatives to capital punishment?

    Any fair minded person must agree that in punishing criminals the punishment should fit the crime. What punishment fits the crime of murder?

    I am in agreement with most libertarians that say the state should be as small as possible, and it should not be allowed to grow from there at all. But I am a minarchist, not an anarchist. I believe that anarchy thoughout history has always been a transitional state on the way to totalitarianism.

    So what ought to be the power of the state? It must protect the God-given and unalienable rights of its citizens without violating those rights itself. So a minimum state will provide for the common defense and eliminate as much as possible the domestic trampling of rights of others. It defends rights. This it’s only legitimate purpose.

    Well, a murderer violates a victim’s right to life. The government must prevent that to the extent that it is able. And that means executing all of the first degree murderers. Fortunately that is a small number compared with the number who are killed by the murderers. Capital punishment is the way we defend ourselves on both an individual and societal level against the killings of murderers.

    A people however governed that will not execute its murderers is like a family that will not flush its toilet.

  7. September 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Relevant to the discussion:
    http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/4.28?lang=eng#27

  8. September 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    And this, where traitors were put to death, after a trial: http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/62.9?lang=eng#8

  9. John W. Redelfs
    September 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    There is also a passage, I believe in Alma, where the scriptures say the government was virtuous, and the laws were as nearly perfect as it is possible to get them because they were the laws of God. Yet, at this time capital punishment for the crime of murder was required under their law. That is a passage that I find persuasive. If a good country with good laws requires the execution of murderers, then capital punishment is an obligation of the government.

  10. September 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    @ Jim Davis,

    My ONLY point in bringing up the self defense comparison was to counter what seemed to be an argument against the death penalty based on the idea that it would be possible for an innocent man to be put to death.

    And by the way, I’m not here arguing in favor of the death penalty. I asked my question sincerely, the question being, on what basic principle would one rule out capital punishment completely?

    I think an appeal to the scriptures is likely not going to provide clear answers. Throughout history capital punishment has been instituted by God, his Prophets, and governments established under his authority. Capital punishment was the established penalty for many, many things, not just murder.

    Times have changed. We don’t live under the Law of Moses today. But basic principles do not change. They are eternal. A clear understanding of eternal principles helps answer the questions to many of today’s dilemmas. But I honestly don’t have to the answer to the question of capital punishment. Who does?

  11. John W. Redelfs
    September 26, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Well, you are in luck. Nature abhors a vacuum and so do I. If you do not have the answer, just ask me. I can always come up with something.

  12. September 27, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Ok, John. I’ve got a challenge for you.

    Try to answer my question. What is the principle? Keep in mind that true principles are solid, not fluffy, they are eternal, they don’t change based on circumstance. They are always true. No matter what.

    prin·ci·pleNoun/?prins?p?l/
    1. A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
    2. A rule or belief governing one’s personal behavior.

    When you truely understand a principle, it can be applied to any situation to which is is applicable, and the answer to the question becomes obvious and easy.

    Here’s an example.

    Principle: Obeying God’s will always leads to greater wellbeing and happiness.

    This is a principle that I personally know to be true. Always. Without question. Knowing God’s will may not always be that simple, but once you know it, the principle will always hold.

    So, the princple can be applied like this: If (Principle), then X.

    Or in this case: If obeying God’s will always leads to greater wellbeing and happiness, then when I am faced with a difficult decision and I know what God’s will is, I know the answer is to follow God’s will.

    This is kind of simple and obvious, but here is how it applies to this debate (and any debate that you want to truely base on princple):

    I stated, “Principle: Obeying God’s will always leads to greater wellbeing and happiness.”

    I’m assuming you agree with that. But it’s not necesarrily relevant to this discussion. Can you find a principle that would be relevant? Something that can be stated concisely and that always holds true? Something you and I can agree on?

    If so, can you put it into a simple sentence that goes like this:

    If (your princple), then the US government is justified in the use of capital punishment in some cases.

    If you can do that, then the debate is over, at least the balck and white part of the debate in which we question whether or not capital punishment should ever be considered. After that, I guess the debate continues as we question when it should be considered, and under what burden of proof it should be used, etc…

  13. John W. Redelfs
    September 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Here is the principle: What God commands is always right and moral.

    He has commanded capital punishment, therefore it is right and moral. And it remains a command until he overturns it.

    According to the Word of God in the Doctrine and Covenants, only the President of the Church can introduce new doctrine, change existing doctrine or interpret scripture for the whole Church. Many presidents of the Church have taught that executing murderers is not only moral but an obligation. No president of the Church has subsequently overturned this commandment.

    And incidentally, the commandment to shed the blood of murderers does not date from the Law of Moses which has been fulfilled. It predates and was not part of the Law of Moses.

  14. September 27, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Interesting. But that was you saying it’s the way it is rather than proving it.

    In other words, I agree that “What God commands is always right and moral”, but as I stated above: “Knowing God’s will may not always be that simple, but once you know it, the principle will always hold.”

    Your argument only stands if we all agree that “He has commanded capital punishment…” “And it remains in command until he overturns it.” …”Many Presidents of the Church have taught that executing murderers is not only moral but an obligation…”

    Should we just believe those statements because you made them?

    I can find multiple instances in the Old Testament that support capital punishment.

    “Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” [Gen. 9:5-6, NKJV]

    “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee. But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbour, to kill him with guile, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.” [Ex. 21:12-14, NKJV]

    “Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty. Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer…so you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.” [Nu. 35:30-33, NKJV]

    Prior to the Law of Moses I don’t see any justification for Capital Punishment, except for the commission of murder. But under the Law of Moses it appears to me that the list of offenses that warranted Capital Punishment was expanded greatly. Some examples that I found:

    Hitting your parents — Ex. 21:15
    Kidnapping — Ex 21:16
    Cursing your father or mother — Ex 21:17
    Killing an unborn infant — Ex 21:22-25
    An animal that has the habit of injuring others and the owner does not destroy it — Exodus 21:28-29
    Witchcraft — Ex. 22:18
    Worship of other gods/goddesses — Ex. 22:20
    Working on the Sabbath — Ex. 35:2
    Adultery — Lev. 20:10
    Incest — Lev. 20:11-12 & 14
    Sodomy (homosexuality/lesbianism) — Lev. 20:13
    Bestiality — Lev. 20:15-16
    False prophesying — Deut. 13:1-10
    Rape under some circumstances — Deut. 22:25

    I suppose we all agree that that expansion ended with the Law of Moses?

    So I guess the crux of your argument comes down to the claim that since Capital Punishment for murder was ordained of God before the Law of Moses, that the fulfillment of the Law of Moses did not end that ordination.

    Correct?

    I understand the argument on its face, but I don’t know that I am certain that it is correct. Were there any other laws instituted by God prior to the Law of Moses that ended when the Law of Moses ended? If there were, why were they different?

    I would also be interested to hear what any modern day prophets have said that you reference above.

    And how do you reconcile all of that with the Church’s official statement:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes of civil law. We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment.”

    http://newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/capital-punishment

  15. John W. Redelfs
    September 27, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:6)

    12 And whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for man shall not shed the blood of man. (JST, Genesis 9:12)

    This is the verse most often cited by the modern prophets acting as mouth for God. Notice that the second verse is one of those corrected by the Prophet Joseph in his Joseph Smith Translation. So the commandment is not only ancient but also modern. Also, if you check the ninth chapter of Genesis you will find that it is the story of Noah and it was in his day that this commandment was given. Noah lived close to a thousand years before Moses. Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth President of the Church, confirmed that it was a commandment that was still in force.

    I have been studying the scriptures and the doctrines of the Church and the modern prophets since I first met the missionaries my junior year of high school in 1962. The Church did not equivocate on this teaching at that time, nor has it until very recently. And while it is true that the civil authority is the only authority that can determine the civil and criminal law for our day, that does not address the issue of what God wants as revealed by his spokesmen, the presidents of the Church. Notice that the official statement you linked to at http://newsroom.lds.org/official-statement/capital-punishment
    does not say whether capital punishment is right or wrong. It only says “We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment” which is a nonanswer. In other words, it is something the prophets do not care to discuss with the media. It is rather like President Hinckley’s statement that “we don’t emphasize it” when he was asked in a media interview about the Lorenzo Snow couplet. He didn’t deny that it was the truth, or even that it was correct doctrine. He was just evasive and refused to answer the question. This statement on capital punishment is similar. It is a nonanswer. If we want to know the truth of the matter, we have to go to the scriptures and the teachings of the modern prophets, especially the presidents of the Church. Only they have the authority to overturn past doctrine. And of course, the truth never changes, only our perceptions of the truth.

    I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get around to it, but I will try to find those places in the latter days where presidents of the Church have reaffirmed the passage in Genesis. Once I have something to report I will either add it in a comment to this post, or send it to you personally.

    And of course, if you should find a doctrinal statement by a president of the Church overturning this ancient law, I hope you will let me know. I will immediately revise my opinion and understanding.

    Bottom line: Capital punishment was commanded by God in ancient times, and that commandment has been reaffirmed in our day by God’s spokemen.

  16. September 27, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I don’t think there’s any question that it was commanded in the Old Testament.

    The JST translation hardly makes it a modern day commandment. It makes it a modern and correct interpretation of an ancient commandment.

    You stated, “Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth President of the Church, confirmed that it was a commandment that was still in force.”

    You provided no quote, no reference, no link.

    Keep in mind here that I am certainly not arguing against your position. I have always believed that capital punishment was and continues to be ordained of God. But I’m looking for finality in that belief.

    I’m still not convinced that an Old Testament decree HAS TO be interpreted as still being in full force just because we aren’t aware of its revocation.

    I’m also not convinced that the Church’s official statement was a nonanswer. You state that “The Church did not equivocate on this teaching at that time, nor has it until very recently”, but offer no proof, no direct quotes, no references, no links.

    The church’s current official statement sounds like an answer to me, not a nonanswer. The answer is that perhaps God does not require us to use capital punishment, nor does he forbid it. It sounds like the church would have no problem if the government did not use capital punishment, and also has no problem with the fact that the government currently uses capital punishment.

    That’s an answer. They would give the same answer if asked what type of cereal the Lord wants us to eat for breakfast. They would say that it’s up to us and they it doesn’t matter to the Lord.

    Saying the “don’t emphasize” something is completely different from specifically stating that they “neither promote nor oppose” something.

    Again, I’m not arguing that capital punishment is wrong or against God’s law or anything like that. But to be honest, the answers you’ve provided so far would simply support someone who already beleives that capital punishment is still not only allowed, but required of God, and is just looking for something to lean on for support. It is hardly compelling to someone who doesn’t have a strong sense either way, and certainly not someone who feels strongly that God no longer requires capital punishment.

  17. John W. Redelfs
    September 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I know I have not provided you with references. I’m in the middle of something else and will find those references as soon as I am able. I know they exist because I have read them repeatedly by a number of prophets over many years. Do not take my word for it. Either find them yourself if it is a matter of great interest to you, or be patient and I will find them for you after I have finished my current project.

    There is quite a lot that the Church no longer teaches that it once taught and has never repealed. What is your opinion of that? Are things that were once true now false? Are things that were once true doctrine now false doctrine? If repeal or revocation is not needed to overturn a prior teaching, what is? Can former doctrine be eliminated just by neglect or failure to “emphasize?” What is the Lord’s way of changing doctrine?

    I have misgivings about changing doctrine just by letting the membership forget about it when it is no longer taught. Maybe that is the Lord’s way, but it doesn’t seem to be the way that was used in 1978 or 1890 when the priesthood ban for blacks was lifted or plural marriage was outlawed by the Church. I’m sure my confusion will be cleared up as I gain additional information from reliable sources. But I am not yet comfortable with calling something false that was once true just because we haven’t heard a sermon preached on it for a long time.

    Consider the 13 Articles of Faith. I have not heard a talk in General Conference on Jackson County and the New Jerusalem in a long time. Does that mean it is no longer our doctrine? I haven’t heard a recent talk on the return of the Ten Lost Tribes either. Does that mean we no longer believe these things, that they are no longer our doctrine? Our current priesthood manual is Gospel Principles used for many years to teach the Gospel Essentials class. Yet it does not teach all of the 13 Articles of Faith, not even on a most basic level. Elder Packer and President Eyring have been preaching for years that teaching the doctrines does a better job of improving behavior than teaching behavior does. Yet many of the doctrines are no longer being taught, and most of what is taught is behavior.

    I’ll try to find the capital punishment stuff for you, but it will take me a while. And if I can’t find the essential citations, I’ll tell you that too. But please be patient. This isn’t an argument. Neither of us is trying to prove the other guy wrong. We both just need to know more.

    I am of the opinion, and this is just opinion, that since truth never changes, and the doctrines of a true church are true, the doctrines should not be changed intentionally by those who are known to have authority and not just by letting the membership forget about them. We believe in continuing revelation, another of the 13 Articles of Faith, but continuing revelation is revelation. And it should require revelation known to the Church membership to overturn teachings that were once taught as the truth.

    I know that prophets and apostles can have personal opinion. But I have always felt we should assume their teachings are true rather than mere opinion unless we have some very good reason to think otherwise. And I have never felt that just not mentioning something is that very good reason. Whatever happened to our teaching that a true church can become false just by leaving out or removing “plain and precious parts?” Is that principle still true today?

  18. John W. Redelfs
    September 28, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    An excellent but short entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism gives some excellent information and references on capital punishments. See: http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Capital_Punishment. One of those references is to a revelation by God through Joseph Smith recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants.

    18 And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.

    19 And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die. (D&C 42:18-19)

    A little further down the page we read:

    79 And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land. (D&C 42:79)

    Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Twelve said in the October 1910 general conference, “To execute a criminal is not murder” (CR, Oct. 1910, p. 51).

    My interpretation is that God’s law still requires capital punishment for murder subject to the laws of the land. In other words, if capital punishment is illegal, then God’s law is that we abide by that, however his law is that murderers be put to death.

    If my interpretation is correct, the commandment of God in the days of Noah is stil in effect. It has been renewed in our day by the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is God’s ancient commandment:

    6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:6)

    If God’s law is followed, governments will execute murderers. But God wants us to follow the law of the land in the matter if the law is something else.

    If we Latter-day Saints are consulted about what the law of the land should be, we should advocate that murderers be put to death. But in the matter of capital punishment we must obey the law of the land whatever it is.

    Fortunately, here in the USA the law of the land still mandates capital punishment for first degree murderers if the situation warrants as decided by a jury.

  19. September 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    John, I generally agree with you, but I don’t feel like I’ve found any “smoking gun”. That’s my problem, not yours.

    But I will respond to your questoins:

    “There is quite a lot that the Church no longer teaches that it once taught and has never repealed. What is your opinion of that? Are things that were once true now false? Are things that were once true doctrine now false doctrine? If repeal or revocation is not needed to overturn a prior teaching, what is? Can former doctrine be eliminated just by neglect or failure to “emphasize?” What is the Lord’s way of changing doctrine?”

    I think you are confusing commandments with “doctrine” or “teachings”.

    I know this one’s a stretch, but it will illustrate my point. Noah was commanded to build an ark. I’m not sure we were ever officially told that we don’t need to build one, but that doesn’t meant that what was once true is now false. It just means that he was given a commandment that we were not given (for obvious reasons, but it wouldn’t change the facts if those reasons weren’t obvious).

  20. October 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Hmmm. I don’t begrudge a man a clear conscience. I think you are interpreting his calm response into something much more sinister than it was. It’s an interesting journey into the imagined recesses of Guv. Perry’s mind, but unsubstantiated. Obviously that man trusts our legal system. Anecdotes aside, I suggest it’s more fair here than anywhere else.

  21. October 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I wonder what the percentage is of murderers who were erroneously judged innocent and then killed again.

    Or the percentage of murderers who escaped from prison.

    If the argument against capital punishment is really just a matter of “what if we kill someone who isn’t guilty?” then how can we ignore the other side? What about those who were found innocent but were actually guilty?

    Human error isn’t a reason by itself to get rid of the death penalty.

  22. December 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    All I need to know is that capital punishment was taught under the correct and inspired laws of Mosiah to know that it is appropriate in our day. The BOM was written for our day right? I really like what Connor teaches usually, but soemtimes I think he carries this libertarianism thing too far.

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