Opposing the death penalty in Maryland

The Rev. John L. Rabb, Suffragan Bishop of Maryland and the Rev. James J. Shand, Bishop of Easton wrote an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun opposing the re-institution of the death penalty in Maryland:

As Christians, church leaders and bishops in the Episcopal Church, we urge the General Assembly to act to abolish the death penalty ("Report fuels death debate," Dec. 13).

As Christians, we are guided by the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Here he specifically rejects retribution by stating that even the teaching in the Old Testament of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is to be rejected in favor of the teaching that calls for reconciliation (Matthew, 6:38).

Responding to killing with more killing will not make society less violent. Retaliating for death with death is not simply punishment but a further justification of violence as a way of life. We simply cannot kill our way out of the violence.

The uneven application of the death penalty also points to its fundamental unfairness. And the reality is that, as a result of prosecutorial discretion, the death penalty is most often used against people of color and poorer people.

Comments (2)

A typo in the letter as printed. The passage intended is Matthew 5:38-39, not 6:38.


Today in New Hampshire, we sentenced a man to death for the first time since 1939. The coincidence of this article and the sentencing shocks me.

For what it's worth, I preferred PB Browning's open statement

from 1990.
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