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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?

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In the past, abolition efforts have faced a backlash—but Gavin Newsom’s moratorium may be different.
The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

U.S.: Young Preacher Argues Government Should Start Executing Gays

Gay flag
Matt Powell, a young, Christian preacher, argues the government should obey the Bible and start executing gays.

Powell recently appeared on the Skylar Fiction Show to explain his conservative Christian views. Once the program begins Powell immediately suggests that gays should be executed by the government just as the Bible dictates, declaring:

… as far as homosexuality goes, you know, I believe the Bible puts the death penalty on it.

Powell added:

I believe it’s disgusting. And incidentally, every scientific test has come back and said that homosexuals are 50 more times likely to get AIDS… we got this AIDS thing spreading… it’s a fact that this is the case.

A skeptical Skylar Fiction first rejected Powell’s false claim concerning AIDS, and then asked if Powell was trolling him, noting that his views were so extreme they resembled “the Westboro Baptist Church.”

An incredulous Fiction asked:

You don’t believe that gay people should be stoned to death, do you?

The young preacher replied:

I believe the Bible puts the death penalty on it (homosexuality). Obviously, not by me or anybody in a regular society, obviously. I believe it’s the government’s job to execute criminals. I believe that the Bible says clearly that homosexuality is a criminal crime. It’s a crime. It’s one of the worst crimes ever…

At that point Fiction asked:

Is that what you’re advocating for? That our government should stone gays to death to execute them?

Powell replied:

By whatever means they execute people. And obviously, I believe in humane, you know, putting to death

Fiction then noted that execution is never “humane.”

It’s sad that someone so young is so thoroughly indoctrinated with such a toxic strain of Christian fundamentalism, but not surprising. In fact, many Christian fundamentalists share Powell’s twisted views.

Indeed, calling for LGBT people to be put to death is a message that is frequently heard in small, and not so small, Christian congregations across the country, and around the world.

Recently a Christian pastor in Arizona made a public call for gays and lesbians to be stoned to death, while openly expressing anger and disappointment that other Christian pastors were not following God’s commandment to “kill the gays.”

In another case, the senior pastor for a megachurch in Tennessee, Brainerd Baptist Church Senior Pastor Robby Gallaty, made headlines after telling his huge congregation that “gays must be put to death” because God commands it.

Claiming that being gay is a choice like drug abuse, Pastor Gallaty told his large congregation that Christians should never stop discriminating against homosexuals, arguing that gays could choose to be straight if they only accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Gallaty explained why gays should be put to death, using the same logic, and the same Biblical reference, Pastor Lee and others use:

God said that the sins of the people had infected the very land in which they live. So what happens to people who engage in this activity, this sexual immoral activity? Go to Leviticus 20, God gives us the punishment for engaging in these sins… ‘If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable thing. They must be put to death. And their blood is on their own hands.’

Clergy are not the only ones who promote extreme anti-gay prejudice in the name of Jesus. In a particularly egregious example, a Republican candidate for Oklahoma’s state house of representatives also argued that LGBT people be put to death, and also used the Bible as a justification.

Bottom line: A new generation of Christian fundamentalists are continuing the old argument that the government should start executing gays, because that’s what Jesus would want.

And so it goes.

Source: Patheos, Michael Stone, May 30, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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Will the U.S. Finally End the Death Penalty?