o-LETHAL-INJECTION-PRISON-facebookEveryone dies, but most of us never kill anyone. Americans are divided over whether it is moral to take a person’s life. On the matter of State executions 37% affirm that it is not acceptable to kill prisoners while 61% maintain that it is morally acceptable to kill prisoners. That moral divide has held rather constant over decades. Now it appears to be in transition.

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is a major Christian group with a powerful political lobby representing 45,000 churches. For 40 years the NAE has been a staunch proponent of State executions. The basic argument of the NAE has been that in order to be pro-life we must be willing to kill people.414388769_eee7427f32

“If no crime is considered serious enough to warrant capital punishment, then the gravity of the most atrocious crime is diminished accordingly.” (NAE, 1973)

In 2015 the NAE issued a new Resolution on Capital Punishment which for the first time recognizes differing views on State execution among Evangelicals.  The new resolution does not assert a stand for or against capital punishment.  Instead it recognizes that significant biblical and theological cases can be made both in favor of and in opposition to State execution.

“Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs about capital punishment, often citing strong biblical and theological reasons either for the just character of the death penalty in extreme cases or for the sacredness of all life, including the lives of those who perpetrate serious crimes and yet have the potential for repentance and reformation. We affirm the conscientious commitment of both streams of Christian ethical thought” (NAE, 2015)

sunrise-182302_640This is a major shift away from the NAE’s long standing decree that robust support for State executions is the only legitimate position for Christians.

It is positive to witness a recognition of diversity of views on moral issues by a staunch conservative body.

When a long standing major proponent of a policy moderates it’s stance, the times are changing.

NAE Resolution on Capital Punishment, 1973

NAE Resolution on Capital Punishment, 2015

New NAE Resolution Recognizes Different Views on Death Penalty, 2015

The National Association of Evangelicals has changed its position on the death penalty, Washington Post, 2015

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