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Executing People is Pro-Life

Thomas Whitley

This according to Al Mohler:

“The death penalty is not about retribution,” Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a podcast Sept. 22. “It is first of all about underlining the importance of every single human life.” ... “The death penalty is intended to affirm the value [and] sanctity of every single human life, and thus by the extremity of the penalty to make that visible and apparent to all,” Mohler said.

I'm not exactly sure in what universe state-sponsored executions (even when there is no doubt of a person's guilt) equals being "pro-life." Earlier today I wrote about how arbitrary these types of labels are and how we are all engaged in a power struggle over who gets to define labels' meanings. Now, I am going to engage the site of contestation.

As nonsensical and illogical as I perceive Mohler's reasoning to be, that was not what struck me the most. Rather, I was most taken aback by this statement:

Mohler predicted the death penalty will become more and more controversial in the years ahead because the “general trend of secularization and moral confusion has undermined the kind of moral and cultural consensus that makes the death penalty make sense.”

So let me get this straight. It's a bad thing that our country is tending away from favoring state-sponsored executions? And this is a result of "moral confusion"? And there existed previously a better "moral and cultural consensus" that "ma[de] the death penalty make sense"? Is it safe to assume that since in 2008, 93% of all known executions that took place in the world took place in five countries - China, Iran, Pakistan, Suadi Arabia, and the United States - that this superior "moral and cultural consensus" is shared by these five countries?

I do agree with Mohler on one point, the death penalty will get more controversial in the coming years, but that isn't because of "moral confusion," just the opposite actually. People in America are starting to wake up to the cognitive dissonance that results from this country going around the world claiming a moral high ground while we still execute prisoners, indefinitely detain and torture prisoners of war, and deny basic civil rights to large swaths of our population.

So, Al Mohler, if your understanding of a good moral and cultural consensus is what gave us blatant acceptance of capital punishment and the capacity to argue for its continued existence, then I am glad that we have "strayed" away from that path and into the abyss of "moral confusion" that produced women's suffrage, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.