Christians in favour of Capital Punishment

Crime and Punishment
Christian and Buddhist ethics
• Remember that Kantian and Utilitarian approaches can
(and are) used by people who hold religious beliefs. You
may find that as we learn about Christian and Buddhist
viewpoints you will see elements of Kantian and
Utilitarian philosophy.
• Generally speaking: Christians are split in their response
to the issues surrounding Crime and Punishment due to
interpretation of Biblical teachings; whereas Buddhists
have a more defined moral stance.
Learning intentions
After today’s lesson you will be able to:
• Consider the relationship between Christian and
Buddhist ethics and Crime and Punishment.
• Apply Christian and Buddhist ethics to moral issues
found in Crime and Punishment.
• (Hopefully) see some aspects of Kantian and/or
Utilitarian approaches within Christian and Buddhist
Life is
Jesus as
Crime and Punishment
The Christian views
It would be wrong to assume that ‘all’ Christians (or for that matter any
group) will react to issues relating to Crime and Punishment in the same
way. However, it is clear that there remains a divide in Christian
support for capital punishment and other punishment related issues.
So much of this depends on a Christians tradition, community and
interpretation of the Bible.
• Christians would be wary of punishing for the purpose of deterrence as
this may lead to people being used as scapegoats.
• A central idea in Christianity is that the strong should protect the weak.
• Christians would support reformation because they believe everyone
can change for the better.
Christians in favour of Capital Punishment
• Many Christians (an example being those of the South US) would argue that
capital punishment is the best way to protect and deter.
• There are parts of the Bible (OT mostly) that clearly advocate the use of
capital punishment and therefore it is allowed by God.
• The Roman Catholic Church, for example, have not retracted statements
which permit the use of capital punishment.
• The Christian church itself has used capital punishment as a punishment
since the Bible was compiled. Heresy (holding beliefs that differ from the
church) was and in some cases still is punishable by death e.g. Witch hunts.
• Using this argument, how can capital punishment be un-Christian?
• Christian thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas argued that the peace of society is
more important than the reform of the sinner.
Useful Biblical quotes (FOR)
• Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand...
Exodus 21:24
• If a man hates his neighbour and lies in wait for him,
assaults and kills him and then flees to one of these
cities, the elders of his town shall send for him, bring him
back from the city and hand him over to the avenger of
blood to die. Show him no pity.
Deuteronomy 19:11-12
Christians in favour of Capital Punishment
• Despite the arguments mentioned, many Christians feel capital punishment
is unjustified.
• It is impossible to reform a sinner when they are dead.
• Many Christians will point to stories of Jesus in the Bible and look to his
example when making a decision on capital punishment. There are times
where he expressly condemns the use of capital punishment e.g. ‘He who
has not sinned may cast the first stone.’
• The teachings of the Old Testament should be replaced with those from the
New Testament.
Life is sacred- only God has the right to decide to end a life (though this
could go the other way). BRIDGE ARGUMENT
• Today, most churches condemn the use of capital punishment. They believe
the teachings of Jesus rule out revenge as a possible motive.
Useful Biblical quotes (AGAINST)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is
right in the sight of everybody…Do not take revenge, my
friends, be leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “It is
mine to revenge, I will repay.”
Romans 12:17-19
• You have heard that is was said , “eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
But I tell you . Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes
you on the right cheek turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:3-8
Suffering due
to ignorance
Crime and Punishment
Buddhist view
For Buddhists the fundamental reason for all suffering is ignorance (including
suffering resulting in, or caused by, crime). For Buddhists we should be
encouraging the person to detach from the attractions of material goods – to stop
the craving and wanting.
Buddhists are not against punishment, in principle, in the form of fines, community
service and prison as long as there is the chance of reform and the indivudual
and society are protected.
Punishment may act as a deterrent which will in turn protect criminals from
creating further bad kamma for themselves.
We should be helping offenders to work towards generating positive kamma. All
beings are equally worthy of comparison – all wish to be happy. For this reason
Buddhists do not agree with punishment that inflicts further unnecessary
Buddhist view continued…
• Buddhists aim to keep 5 Precepts which are guidelines for living a skilful
life. The first of the 5 Precepts Buddhists are expected to keep is: to
abstain from taking life.
• Ahimsa or non-violence is a principle that means that all life should be
treasured. All sentient beings are fundamentally good and all life is
important and has the potential to attain enlightenment.
• Buddhists hold a strong position against Capital Punishment. Any
violence leads to bad kamma for all, the results of which may be seen in a
next life.
• Executed criminals are not given the chance to reform and learn from
their mistakes.
• With any revenge or retaliation, the intention behind the action is to
harm and this therefore incurs negative kammic consequences. This goes
against the Buddhist teachings of compassion (karuna).
Crime and Punishment
Buddhist quotes from scripture
In the Dhammapada Buddha said:
If a man does something wrong, let him not do it again and
again. Let him not find pleasure in his sin. Painful is the
accumulation of wrongdoings.
Dh. 117
Who hurts not any living being, whether feeble or strong,
Who neither kills nor causes to kill – him I call a Brahmin.
Dh. 405
• Christians (OT)
• Buddhists
• Christians (NT)
Learning check…
Crime and Punishment
a) ‘Capital punishment can never be tolerated’.
Discuss religious responses to this statement.

similar documents