Petition 81125

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Death Penalty (81125-C1-¶164.G)

   Amend ¶ 164G:
   G) The Death Penalty We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. The United Methodist Church is deeply concerned about crime throughout the world and the value of any life taken by murder or homicide. We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable. When governments implement the death penalty (capital punishment), then the life of the convicted person is devalued and all possibility of change in that person’s life ends. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that the possibility of reconciliation with Christ comes through repentance. The gift of reconciliation is offered to all individuals without exception and gives all life new dignity and sacredness. But we cannot, on those grounds, properly oppose all applications of the death penalty (capital punishment). Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, recognize it as a proper government function to punish evil and protect the innocent. Our established standards of doctrine (see Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament at Romans 13:4) and Christ Himself (Mark 12:9, Luke 19:27, 23:41-42) confirm this understanding.  We reject the argument that the murderer, the accidental killer, or the executioner, by taking a life, has the power to separate eternally the soul of another from an all-powerful, all-loving God. While we must question or protest specific instances of the wrongful use of For this reason, we oppose the death penalty (capital punishment), we cannot oppose it in every instance. Nor can we and urge its elimination from all criminal codes.

Rationale

As cited above, the Church’s absolute opposition to capital punishment violates both Scripture and Wesley’s Notes. Wesley identifies “the sword” entrusted to governments to punish wrongdoers with “capital punishment” (Romans 13:4). Therefore, this stance contradicts Wesley’s Notes, violating the First Restrictive Rule (¶ 17) and our Constitution.