BELIEFS ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

The demands of our criminal justice system today, force society to practice the use of capital punishment. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty ?cruel and unusual punishment,? but this decision was reversed in 1978. The citizens of the United States have the right to enforce or ban the law of capital punishment on a state level. Since then, the punishments or scheduled punishments have increased at a steady rate. Religious beliefs among the people can influence and determine the righteousness of this act of punishment. Different forms of religions will hold their own positions on this issue. Therefore, people may have to decide if this form of punishment is humane or inhumane based on their religious beliefs.
The Catholic church has stated their position on the use of capital punishment. The Catholic church believes that all human life is sacred and that we as Catholics are obligated to protect all forms of human life. Therefore the use or practice of the death penalty is opposed by Catholics. The Catholic church believes that life is a gift from God. God is our creator and only he has the right to give or take away a life. Man should not have the power to take another man's life in any situation.
The Catholic church does not believe that capital punishment is the solution to or cure for a violent crime or murder. Capital punishment fails to create a society free from crime because of the fact that we are committing a murder upon the perpetrator. The death penalty punishment does not teach or set a good example to our society. The death penalty is enforced to teach that every life should be valued and respected. Consequently, it is not right to teach society that killing is wrong by killing. The Catholic church suggests that instead of the death penalty, a life sentence without parole should be given to the accused.

The Catholic church argues that the death penalty is a form of revenge. People feel the need, or have the desire to take revenge upon the violator. As stated in the Catholic Bishops' Statement on Capital Punishment, ?people legitimately desire justice; however, justice can not be achieved through vengeance.? The familiar proverb, ?an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? (Lev. 24:20), is not intended to promote revenge, but is to be interpreted as a guideline for society. Revenge creates more violence in our society and is not justifiable when one kills the accused as a punishment.
The Old Testament of the Bible lists several instances in which the death penalty was once used and accepted in the times of ancient Israel. The Old Testament states that the death penalty was often used in punishment for several crimes. In the instance of murder, Genesis 9:6 states, ?Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.? The death penalty was used for those who committed adultery and in the instances a sexual activity before marriage. Crimes such as kidnapping, careless handling of an animal, desecrating the Sabbath, perjury, and for cursing or abusing your parents were considered capital punishment crimes. When a person committed a crime such as these, they would appear before a court for their chance of to defend themselves and then sentenced accordingly. The death penalty would then consist of stoning the accused or burning them alive. Obviously, as times change, certain acts of punishment are left behind, yet new forms are accepted containing the same intentions.
The New Testament of the Bible does not clearly cite it's belief on the issue of capital punishment. ?He that is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her,? was stated in John 8:3-8:11 in an attempt to provide Jesus' position on the issue of capital punishment. This quote can not be completely enforced because it was not a part of the early gospels of John. In Romans 13:1-5, Paul writes, ?The authorities that exist have been established by God. For he is God's servant to do you good?? and ??to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.? Again, the impression here may promote Catholics to believe that