Rob Dreher’s column this week in the Dallas Morning News about Gov. Rick Perry’s investigation into the possible execution of an innocent man in Texas brings up lots of questions about capital punishment in a democracy.
The United States is great because we have a justice system on which people are judged by everyday citizens, a jury. A jury is fought for by both the prosecution and the defense and most times is a pretty good representation of the city that the trial is held in. A jury is another form of representative government. A juror represents his community in a trial. So when an innocent man is convicted and executed, that falls on the society as a whole, not just the judges, leaders, or even jurors who were apart of process.
That being said, the circumstances that lead up to the current scandal over the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the murder of his children is shady at best. An independent forensic team had discovered new evidence, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was about to investigate before Gov. Perry stepped in. Now that it all has come to light after the execution of Willingham, many are horrified.
Why would anyone want to execute a man if there was any reasonable doubt of his innocence?
This brings to question capital punishment altogether. As a Christian am I to be for execution or against it? I mean I believe in justice, and there are definitely situations where I can think of that warrant someone being put to death, but as a Christian, should I be for the death of anyone?
If I believe that the Lord can redeem all things, do I need to fight for that even for criminals of the worst kind? How can I fight for both justice and mercy? How should the Church, in Texas especially, be reacting to the possible execution of an innocent man?
At the end of his article Dreher makes a compelling point:
“It’s much harder to live with painful truths than with comforting lies. But a people who would be on the side of right have no choice.”
I hope that I choose to live with painful truths while working towards healing and making them right rather than comforted by lies while everything falls apart around me.