Introduction

Amnesty’s annual report (2012) has China topping list of executions with over 1,000, Iran second with 314, US fifth with 43. The United States only country in the Americas practicing execution.  (see YNet News)

The Amnesty International report says 682 executions in 2012 in all countries other than China  were verified to have been carried out last year —only two more than 2011 —as five countries carried through with the death penalty for the first time in many years…The country that had the highest increase in the number of executions was Iraq, with almost double the 68 killed in 2011. (see Amnesty International)

Canada, on the other hand, does not have a death penalty. (see 35 years of abolition) In most cases, the most serious sentence for murder is life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years. However, if a person has a long history of violent crime, then they can be declared a “dangerous offender.” With this classification they are given an indefinite sentence with little chance of ever being paroled.

An Angus-Reid poll released in March, 2012,  suggests three out of five Canadians (60%) support reinstating the death penalty for murder. (see Amnesty International)

Sources: Amnesty International  and  Religious Tolerance.org

Assignment:

Do some research to find out the arguments for and against capital punishment (death penalty)?  There are some links below to start off with.  Then take a stance on the following statement:

Should Canada reinstate the death penalty for criminals who commit first-degree murder?

This does not have to be in the form of a formal essay, but be sure to support you arguments with factual information.  Include in your discussions, the answers to the following questions.

  1. How does Ezekiel 33:11 apply to the question of capital punishment? “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live.”
  2. The concept of equal retribution “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deuteronomy 19:21) was actually given in order to control the all-out vengeance that had taken place up to that time. What does Jesus tell us about vengeance?  Read Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:19, and 1 Peter 3:9 to find out.  (Just go to NRSV Bible, and type in the book, chapter and verse.  When you do this, the verse(s) will come up.) How do these scriptures apply to modern day capital punishment?

Here are some links to start off with:

Against arguments:  Catholic Culture and Amnesty International USA

Pro arguments:  Pro death penalty and  Pro death penalty page (keep in mind some of these are websites of individuals, so one has to question their reliablity for statistics, etc.)

Contains both arguments:  Religious Tolerance and  Arguments for and against

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Ezekiel 33:11
View in: NRSV
11Say to them: As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will you die, O house of Israel?
Deuteronomy 19:21
View in: NRSV
21Thou shalt not pity him, but shalt require life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Matthew 5:38-42
View in: NRSV
38You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
39But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other:
40And if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him.
41And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two,
42Give to him that asketh of thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.
Luke 6:27-36
View in: NRSV
27But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.
28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you.
29And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.
30Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.
31And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner.
32And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them.
33And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this.
34And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much.
35But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.
36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Romans 12:19
View in: NRSV
19Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Peter 3:9
View in: NRSV
9Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing.
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