Rethinking the Death Penalty

(NOTE: Below is an editorial I wrote for the Tennessean. It was originally published August 18, 2014, and got quite of bit of attention under comments.)

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No matter how hard I try not to be boxed in, people label me. So, let me give you my best shot at who I am, based on labels:

I was born and raised in the South in an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist, Protestant denomination. I am an evangelical. I am not the same person I was 20 years ago, and 10 years from now I will likely be different from who I am today. Why am I telling you this?

Because there is an issue that I want to talk about, and where I land on this issue has been the result of much prayer, study, debate and restless nights. Where I land on this issue is different from where I started and what I was taught in my conservative church and Bible college.

The issue is capital punishment. The reason for bringing it up now is because Tennessee is scheduled to execute 11 inmates over the next two years, the first in October.

Because I spent the majority of my life in favor of capital punishment, I know the arguments and understand the Scriptures used to support it. Today I also know the arguments and understand the Scriptures used to support doing away with it. Both views have their strengths and weaknesses. Both views can be defended from the Bible. However, I now oppose the death penalty, and I want to share at least a couple of reasons why.

First, the way we carry out the death penalty is unjust. Even if you believe it is justifiable for some crimes, it is not too difficult to see the injustice in how our society carries out that punishment. Far too often, who does and does not get the death penalty depends on economics or gender or race (of both the victim and the criminal), the county in which the crime occurred and politics. Furthermore, the amount of time between sentencing and execution is cruel and unjust for the families of the victims. Still, even with such long delays, more than 140 people have been released from death rows nationwide when evidence of their innocence came to light. Innocent people could have been executed. Simply put: Even if capital punishment is just, we are incapable of carrying it out in a just way.

Second, Tennessee has an alternatives to capital punishment; a life sentence. This punishment is less costly to taxpayers, protects the public and allows for the possibility of redemption and reconciliation, even within prison. Also, this alternative does not risk executing an innocent person — a mistake that can never be remedied.

Honestly, I would have to admit that one reason I was pro-death penalty for so long is that the issue simply wasn’t important to me. I didn’t have the time or energy to think about it. I think that is how a lot of people feel. But now is the time for all of us to think and pray about it. I still don’t care for labels, but if you want to label me, you can count me as opposed to the death penalty.

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I’m Back

I’m back!

It’s been a couple of years since I have posted on this blog site. I switched to a personal website with a blog on it and wrote about several different things. I am thinking about shutting that site down and coming back to this blog. If I do, I will write exclusively about social justice issues from a conservative theological perspective. Plus, I will place my sermon manuscripts from Sundays. In case you don’t know, I pastor a church in Franklin, TN that is committed to social justice issues.

Look for some new posts coming soon.

Pastor Kevin

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Headwind

Hey everyone, check out my new website and blog. Also, once you get there, sign up to receive email updates.

http://www.profrevkev.com/?p=3593

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Updated Blog Site

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted you to know that I have combined all my blogs into 1 blog site. You will find it at www.profrevkev.com. Here is a direct link to the new blog site.

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New Blog Site

Hey Everyone,

I am grateful and humbled for how many people follow my blog and send me notes of encouragement. I am trying to take my social media skills to another level. Part of that is developing my own website, complete with my blog. So, I am in the process of closing down all my blogs and moving them all to one place. That place is http://www.profrevkev.com. Once at that site, you will see a heading titled “blog.” That is where my blog will be. When you get a chance, go there and sign up to receive notices from that blog.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement.

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Not Guilty

george-zimmermanWell, the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial was reached and read and reacted to on Saturday evening, July 13, 2013. Mr. Zimmerman was found “not-guilty.” I have my own thoughts about the verdict and the guilt or innocence of Mr. Zimmerman. But none of those thoughts matter. The prosecution made its case. The defense made its case. The jury made its decision.

I respect that.

I really have no right to criticize or praise the final outcome because I was not present in the courtroom. I did not even come close to hearing all the facts. I followed the trial from a distance. In reality, unless you were sitting in the courtroom for the entire trial, you really can’t say much about the verdict and how it was reached. All you can do is respect the decision. You don’t have to agree with it or disagree with it. You don’t have to like it or dislike it. All you can do is respect it and say, “Wow.” Continue reading

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Right In Front of Us

While it seems a lot of my friends are concerned about all the scandals going on in Washington, something is happening right in front of us that very few people notice, much less discuss, and that is the injustice aimed at the middle-class and working-class in our society. The middle and working class are dwindling and no one seems to care.

Beginning in January, all employees were faced with a 3% increase in payroll taxes. Put another way, every worker in the United States pay decreased by 3%. While all of us face this tax, it harms the lower-middle class, working class, and minimum wage employee the most.

Then, because of uncertainty regarding how the Affordable Care Act will work, large companies cut part-time, low-wage, workers shifts below 28 hours a week. For many, this equals another 20% reduction in pay. (Personally, as an adjunct professor at a state college, I have felt this reduction.)

If you are keeping score, that’s a 23% reduction in pay. If you add a conservative 2% increase in cost of living, all of a sudden, a family already struggling to make ends meet has lost 1/4th of its income!

If any of these people had the opportunity to go to college and had to take out student loans to do so, beginning Monday, their interest rates on those loans will double. UNBELIEVABLE! Continue reading

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