God's Politics

God's Politics


Rose Marie Berger: James Loney’s Living Forgiveness

posted by gp_intern

“Norman, Harmeet and I have forgiven our captors,” says Jim Loney in yesterday’s op-ed to The Toronto Star. “Our reason is very simple. We’ve had enough with bombs and guns and gallows.”

Sojourners and I spent many an anxious moment while our compatriots in Christ with the Christian Peacemaker Teams were held captive in Baghdad between November 2005 and March 2006 (see Sojourners December 2006). In the end, this saga of modern martyrdom ended in the tragic death of Tom Fox and the ultimate release of Jim Loney, 42, Harmeet Singh Sooden, 34, and Norman Kember, 75, by British and American soldiers.

In November 2006, Jim, Harmeet, and Norman were told that an unspecified number of men alleged to be their kidnappers were in U.S. custody. According to Loney, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Scotland Yard asked them to testify in a trial to be conducted in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (see Paul Brenner’s authorization for the formation of the CCCI). An RCMP officer indicated, “The death penalty is on the table.”

A recent report from the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq says the CCCI “consistently failed to meet minimum fair trial standards.” Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark calls the CCCI a “meat grinder.” “It reminds me of the reign of terror in Paris,” he says. “You guillotine some, imprison others–it’s unclear who’s more fortunate.” Amnesty International (AI) says at least 100 people have been executed and at least 270 more have been condemned to death by the CCCI.

In a May 23 op-ed to The Toronto Star, Loney told the RCMP that he won’t testify:

I cannot participate in a judicial process where the prospects of a fair trial are negligible, and more crucially, where the death penalty is a possibility. The death penalty is the legalization of blood vengeance. It is a cruel, degrading and irrevocable judgment. Take away the fancy legal rationale and the dignified court proceedings and what remains is an act of murder, plain and simple, no different than what was done to Tom Fox. Capital punishment is a manifestation of the very violence it claims to deter. Those who kidnapped us and murdered Tom were swept into a vicious cycle of violence and retribution for violence that was put in motion in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq and its continuing occupation.

Jim ends his statement by saying, “We want to see an end to all killing, regardless of the reason. Capital punishment is simply the legal face of the dead-end cycle of violence and retribution for violence that is destroying Iraq. We want to see something genuinely new and different, a future that begins with the power of forgiveness.”

This is an example of who we are as Christians. Death – and all its attendant principalities and powers of violence cloaked in the lie of necessary evil – has no dominion over us. This is the freedom that we are offered in Christ.

Rose Marie Berger is an associate editor of Sojourners magazine.



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moderatelad

posted May 25, 2007 at 10:22 pm


Take away the fancy legal rationale and the dignified court proceedings and what remains is an act of murder, plain and simple, no different than what was done to Tom Fox. The death penalty is not ‘murder’ as the person the sentence is imposed on has committed a crime. Murder is the destroying of an innocent life – one that has done nothing deserving death. They were given no trial – allowed to offer a defence. Execution is the final judgement of a soceity on one that has killed an innocent person. I am not a big fan of the death penalty but I would like to keep the verbage straight.Murder – killing of an innocent person Death Penalty – execution of one found guilty. Now – I have gone on record as willing to end the death penalty if we would in the process of a trial. If the person was found guilty of murder, they were given the death penality to document how grievious a crime they committed. Then the sentence would be changed to ‘life in prison’ with no contact with the outside world of friends and relatives. I say that because there is one 6 feet under that will never have a cup of coffee with their family or a greeting card sent to them for any event, the person in prison should have to live under the same paradgime. Have a great weekend. .



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kevin s.

posted May 25, 2007 at 10:40 pm


“Those who kidnapped us and murdered Tom were swept into a vicious cycle of violence and retribution for violence that was put in motion in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq and its continuing occupation.” Curious use of the passive voice here, as thought the kidnappers were walking to the store when suddenly the winds of violence took over and they were left with no choice but to become nurderous thugs. Right.



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Carl Copas

posted May 25, 2007 at 10:53 pm


Such an incredible amount of forgiveness.



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Steve Thorngate

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:33 pm


Thanks for this, Rose. Some articulate and intellectually reasonable explanations of retributive justice in the comments. Of course, Jesus explicitly condemned the idea of retribution. And Paul would have had a thing or two to say about the idea that some people’s sin makes them fundamentally worse than other people or puts them beyond redemption. The Reformers made much of this point–why don’t more of us Paul-obsessed Protestants joint the RC church in denouncing the death penalty on principle?



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cs

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:38 pm


Forgiveness is commendable. But, does it strike anyone else as unusual that “former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark” is cited criticizing the CCCI without any reference to his defense of Saddam Hussein during his trial before the Iraqi Special Tribunal? That, my friends, is what we call a glaring ommission of relevant facts.



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moderatelad

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:41 pm


Carl Copas | 05.25.07 – 4:58 pm | #OK – you can call it forgiveness, but unless it is asked for – is it really legit. True forgiveness is when the person(s) figured out that they were wrong or have sinned. They then go to the person(s) that they offended and let them know that they were the one(s) that caused them harm or detress, ask the person to forgive them and finally offer to make amends or restitution. Unless all of these areas are covered it is just an empty sentence that really does little to make the situation correct. Yes – one can offer forgiveness to someone without confronting them – but it is done for yourself and allows you to move on realizing that you are not going to let that situation have any control over you again. But it does nothing to being you and the other person to terms or the restoration of a relationship.From one who has been there, done that, got the T-shirt – .



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cs

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:41 pm


“Why don’t more of us Paul-obsessed Protestants join the RC church in denouncing the death penalty on principle?” I think Paul’s own words in Romans 13:4 might answer that for you.



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Steve Thorngate

posted May 25, 2007 at 11:58 pm


Right, Romans 13–guess I kind of walked into that one. Not an easy passage to explain entirely away, and I won’t try to. I will say that running with the idea that Paul supports the Roman Empire’s use of capital punishment gets pretty uncomfortable in a hurry. Not to mention the fact that this passage is a mere footnote compared to the same letter’s passionate exposition of the equality of fallen humanity and the boundlessness of God’s love and redemption.



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Mike Hayes

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:00 am


So, the US invaded Iraq primarily to locate and capture chemical and biological weapons and also because the lives of Iraqi citizens would improve once Saddam Hussein was gone… The court system established under the direction of the US continues in operation and “…consistently failed to meet minimum fair trial standards…”. How is justice and safety and security for citizens of Irag ever going to be acheived? Is the US the only possible source of success, ever…



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:06 am


“Right, Romans 13–guess I kind of walked into that one. Not an easy passage to explain entirely away, and I won’t try to. I will say that running with the idea that Paul supports the Roman Empire’s use of capital punishment gets pretty uncomfortable in a hurry. Not to mention the fact that this passage is a mere footnote compared to the same letter’s passionate exposition of the equality of fallen humanity and the boundlessness of God’s love and redemption.” A balanced analysis of this passage. I am not sure that Paul would oppose the death penalty on principle, but he certainly might (as do I) in implementation.Do the limitations of government render null the justice attained by the execution of a murderer? Maybe not always, but in our trial-by-jury system, the governmental sword of justice is dulled rather substantially.And now some are pining for the death penalty for child rapists? Hmmmm….



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neuro_nurse

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:29 am


why don’t more of us Paul-obsessed Protestants joint the RC church in denouncing the death penalty on principle? Steve Thorngate Actually, the Church does not oppose the death penalty on principle:Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2267 http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art5.htmExecution is the final judgement of a soceity on one that has killed an innocent person. moderatelad Which is precisely one of my objections to the death penalty it is society s judgment, not God s.



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Steve Thorngate

posted May 26, 2007 at 12:56 am


“Actually, the Church does not oppose the death penalty on principle.” Fair enough; yes, there’s some wiggle room there, more than exists in Catholic teaching on, say, abortion. Perhaps I chose the phrase “on principle” carelessly. My point is simply that it’s shameful that we Protestants have rarely led on this issue, given our theological heritage.



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Payshun

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:13 am


Moderatelad: OK – you can call it forgiveness, but unless it is asked for – is it really legit. True forgiveness is when the person(s) figured out that they were wrong or have sinned. They then go to the person(s) that they offended and let them know that they were the one(s) that caused them harm or detress, ask the person to forgive them and finally offer to make amends or restitution. Unless all of these areas are covered it is just an empty sentence that really does little to make the situation correct. Yes – one can offer forgiveness to someone without confronting them – but it is done for yourself and allows you to move on realizing that you are not going to let that situation have any control over you again. But it does nothing to being you and the other person to terms or the restoration of a relationship.Me: This is simply not true. The goal of forgiving someone is showing grace to the undeserved. The fruit can sometimes be restoration of relationship but that’s never the goal. We are called to forgive regardless if the other person feels bad and even if they did come up and apologize it would never fix it. They were being held hostage. no amount of feeling bad will change that. In conclusion I have to say your theology on forgiveness is faulty. p



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jesse

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:15 am


It seems like Rose Marie is making a false distinction between forgiveness (a matter of the heart) and punishment (a matter for the state). You can forgive someone while still recognizing that they should be punished. I’m guessing that the peacemakers and Rose Marie believe the kidnappers should be punished. But really the question is over the sort of punishment that is appropriate. Forgiveness is not really the issue.



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Payshun

posted May 26, 2007 at 3:17 am


Kevin: And now some are pining for the death penalty for child rapists? Hmmmm…. me: Huh? There are times where I do want some people to die. I am human, I get mad. But I don’t kill them. Granted I had to seek forgiveness for the murder in my heart but that still doesn’t speak to the death penalty. p



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canucklehead

posted May 26, 2007 at 5:27 am


“Bravo” to my fellow Canuck, Jim Loney! Somebody needs to introduce a radical alternative into the insanity! His piece brought these words to mind: “Tomorrow is the price for yesterday; A billion waves won’t wash the truth away Someday you’ll be ordered to explain No one gets to walk between the rain And I don’t want this, no I don’t want this I have had enough, no more; No, I don’t want this – no, I don’t want this I have had enough, no more” -Bob Seger in “No More”



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Sarasotakid

posted May 26, 2007 at 6:17 am


This is a wonderful post and a real view of Christian forgiveness at work. Neuro-nurse, again thank you for using the catechism to shine a reasoned light on the issue of the death penalty.Kevin, I think that this might be an area of agreement between the two of us. I do believe that there are crime that deserve death. But since we cannot rely on the courts to get to the truth of the matter in many instances, it is better not to use the death penalty. Is that what you’re saying?



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squeaky

posted May 26, 2007 at 6:43 am


Moderatelad– you make a good point IF the goal of forgiveness is restoration of relationship–clearly that isn’t or can’t be Jim Loney’s goal. I doubt his relationship with his captors was anything to restore. Putting the onus on the person who wronged us to ask forgiveness is a means of holding us who were wronged, hostage. If I can’t forgive someone until they ask for it, I may never have an opportunity to forgive that person. Meanwhile, the anger in my heart turns to bitterness and eats me alive. When Jesus told Peter to forgive 70X7, He didn’t qualify that directive with “but only IF they ask to be forgiven.” Jim Loney is an example of true Christian forgiveness–forgive not because those who wronged him and his comrades deserve it, but forgive because the debt we owe our Lord is far greater than any damage done to us by anyone else. We are forgiven, therefore, we forgive.



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Patti Harrison

posted May 26, 2007 at 7:16 am


I believe in the Death penalty-straight-on! To me, murder is murder in my eyes, whether it be by Armed robbery or by rape or whatnot! We as a nation must abide by the rules and laws of the land, and if it is so decreed for the Death penalty, well it is so ordered. Lets get on with it! Stop wasting taxpayers money and especially the Victims pain and suffering. And I truly do love the Lord, I am a very strong Christian, Latter Day Saint, but I am also a victim.



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kevin s.

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:10 am


“Huh? There are times where I do want some people to die. I am human, I get mad. But I don’t kill them. Granted I had to seek forgiveness for the murder in my heart but that still doesn’t speak to the death penalty.” I don’t understand what you are saying here. “But since we cannot rely on the courts to get to the truth of the matter in many instances, it is better not to use the death penalty. Is that what you’re saying?” Correct.



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Wayne

posted May 26, 2007 at 2:22 pm


“I cannot participate in a judicial process where the prospects of a fair trial are negligible, and more crucially, where the death penalty is a possibility.” I understand that the author is against the death penalty. So am I, on the same grounds as Kevin. I think the real argument to be made in this case is the one quoted here. The court system in Iraq is not just nor is it capable of being so with all the sectarian hatred and violence that exists in the land. When we use principles like “the rule of law” to justify less than humane attitudes, we pervert those same principles. Law must be blind if it is to approach justice. I think that is possibly more the point of the author than just the rightness of the death penalty here. Ironically it may be when we are hurt the most and our hatred or indignancy is at its highest that we might do well to refrain from punishments that are final and without recourse.



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justintime

posted May 26, 2007 at 4:24 pm


An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. http://www.amazon.com/Eye-Makes-Whole-World-Blind/dp/1587900343 .



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Tom

posted May 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm


I forgive people like Bill O’Reilly at the same time I put him into a headlock, :).



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 26, 2007 at 8:08 pm


I, also, am opposed to Capital Punishment, but on different grounds. With Capital Punishment there is no opportunity for retribution. Say Joe kills Tom. Tom s wife, Mary, is now destitute and has no support for her and her children. If we execute Joe, Mary remains in her current condition. If, however, we make Joe pay retribution to Mary, she is relieved, Joe s dignity is improved, and there more productive individuals participating in society. Now, as Christians, we are in the unique and peculiar position to be able to offer forgiveness, even unconditionally, but this is a new law only for those whom have experienced regeneration, and we ought not to expect or demand this ethic of the world. Moderatelad, True forgiveness does not have to be asked for, While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Indeed the perpetrator is unable to ask for forgiveness until they are already forgiven. The act of forgiveness is done as self-sacrifice in imitation of Christ, with no conditions whatsoever. I am also opposed to Capital Punishment on legal grounds. Today s laws are written arbitrarily, and make no investigation of the natural law. We have lost our Common Law foundation in many cases. If it can be shown that a criminal is guilty on precedent according to scientifically discovered natural law, then I am willing for the public court to pass judgment on him. Otherwise, I refuse to recognize laws which are not in accordance with the natural law, and which have no history of discovery. Romans 13 says that the state exists to punish the evildoer, and no more. This passage is complicated only if you desire for the state to do more or less than this. There is Biblical support for such a system. The book of Judges records over 400 years of time where there was no centralized government in Israel, only a loose federation, and Judges, whom decided cases by applying the Mosaic codified precedtial law. When Judges says, And every man did that which was right in his own eyes, this is a good thing. It means there was no central government making arbitrary decrees and demands upon the people, and they were free. Nathanael Snow



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Timbo

posted May 27, 2007 at 2:49 am


Ethics question: What happens if the kidnappers are released because nobody was willing to testify against them and they go back to their old habits of terror, kidnapping and murdering even more people? Would Loney be responsible in any way?



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squeaky

posted May 27, 2007 at 6:32 am


Jurisnaturalist, And every man did that which was right in his own eyes,Yikes. That is a scary, scary thought to me. Seems to me that other times when the Bible uses this phrase, it was describing times when people were basically lawless–living however they want with little regard for God and His law. It would be a good thing if people were righteous and not sinful. It would be a good thing if people understood everthing about complexities of how our world works. We don’t. It isn’t that I don’t trust God–but I really don’t trust people to make the right decisions. We make the wrong decisions all the time, even with organizing principles set up for us to live by (regardless of whether those principles are set by church or state). I don’t think you can compare the time of Judges, with a very small population occupying a very small part of the world, with today. Timbo–I’m not sure what Loney’s response is. But there is a difference between letting someone off scot-free with forgiveness, and forgiving someone but also expecting that person to still face the consequences of their actions. It seems Loney doesn’t believe that his captors should be executed. But does he believe that his captors should be set free?



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Sarasotakid

posted May 27, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Patti, I am sorry for the suffering you have had to go through. I don’t know what form that suffering took but I am sure that it had to be horrible. Don’t get me wrong. I thing that I would have a hard time arguing that there are not crimes worthy of the perpetrator receiving the death penalty. The problem I have (and others here) is that our system of justice, though good, is not perfect and there are innocent people who may end up receiving the death penalty. It may be hard to comprehend but in our society where winning is the key objective, there are police officers and prosecutors who would be willing to set aside their duty to do justice in order to get another prosecution that they can claim- even if it means harming an innocent person. Then there are defense attorneys who may not be as diligent and aggressive in fighting for their clients as they need to be. As long as there is life, there is hope and maybe if somebody gets a life sentence, exculpatory evidence can later be mustered and put forth. If the death penalty is carried out against them, any amount of exculpatory evidence will not bring them back.



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 6:17 pm


If the system is corrupt, then the process of justice should likely continue unabated. I don’t see where Loney will add to the injustice simply by telling the truth. If these people do go free, and they go on to kill more innocent people, then he is only contributing to the bloodshed. Loney may not know whether there are innocents being prosecuted, but he knows darn well that these men are not innocent. A trial, fair or unfair, will reveal that these men are murderers. Loney’s testimony will not contirbute to injustice. Is there another agenda at play here?



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Sarasotakid

posted May 27, 2007 at 9:09 pm


“A trial, fair or unfair, will reveal that these men are murderers.” Do I take that to mean that you do not care whether or not it is a fair trial so long as these men are prosecuted? I for one cannot support an unfair trial. The ends do not justify the means.



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Mick Sheldon

posted May 27, 2007 at 9:33 pm


My values and Faith see nothing wrong with forgiving a murderer . In fact our faith supports it . How hard that is at times , we have problems with political discourse ,this person indeed has a Love of God in their heart . I think his views are off though . Forgiving that murderer and supporting the death penalty I suggest is very hard to do , but it it not hypocritical or does it come from unprincipled or Non Bibical Understanding . I value and support those who believe the Lord would not support the Death Penalty ,I know the disciples carried swords, there fore The Lord was not against defending yourself , and the Death Penalty is seen as a deterent my some . I believe perhaps this is just one of the issues where your Faith and Heart could lead to either position . If the church promotes either side , it should value that also .



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kevin s.

posted May 27, 2007 at 10:00 pm


“Do I take that to mean that you do not care whether or not it is a fair trial so long as these men are prosecuted?” Only that concerns about how his testimony will be used seem laregely unwarranted, as it will have no impact on the fairness of the trial.



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 27, 2007 at 11:33 pm


Squeaky, Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. The Bible doesn t use this phrase anywhere else. These people were not lawless, they had a law, ONLY God s law, uncorrupted by the influence of Kings or other central government. They were making rational decisions based on the incentives they were facing. So, people are sinful and unrighteous, but governments are not?!? State institutions, beyond law and judges, are PAGAN institutions which God specifically warned Israel against, but we expect these institutions to be magically better than people are individually. Then we give the state monopolistic power over force, and expect it to remain righteous. Which requires more faith?!? If we cannot compare the time of Judges with today, which period of time Biblically can we compare with today. Or has human nature experienced a fundamental alteration? What miracle has done this? Only believers have had their human nature altered, through regeneration, so only believers can live together in community. Only believers can choose to do what is ethical apart from natural incentives, and only believers are held accountable for doing so. In regards to the rest of the discussion: If a person commits a murder, he has set himself outside the protection of the law. He is an outlaw. If he is caught and makes an appeal to the courts, then the courts ought to appoint retribution for the perpetrator to pay. If the perpetrator then neglects to make retribution and attempts to escape, he is again outside the protection of the law, and an outlaw. An outlaw may be hunted down and killed by anyone who wants to. Hunting down people and killing them was the old way of dealing with things. Appealing to courts was a step of progress, because it allowed for redemption of dignity to perpetrators and retribution to victims rather than just revenge. But if a man chooses not to appeal to a court, or to violate that court, he is then in contempt, and he has chosen the old road. We ought to respect his decision. Again, all of this is exemplified in the Mosaic law and Judges, where cities of refuge were established as a place where murderers could appeal to the law. Rights only belong to people who don t violate the rights of others. The only rights we have innate are Life, Liberty, and Property.



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Payshun

posted May 28, 2007 at 1:33 am


Why do Christians always take the sword carrying in luke out of context. If Christ had wanted them to use them then he would not have rebuked peter when he did. p



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Sarasotakid

posted May 28, 2007 at 1:59 am


Payshun, I think it is because they are struggling with whether Jesus was advocating a pacifist position or not. Their interpretation is a strech but it is by no means unfounded.



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neuro_nurse

posted May 28, 2007 at 2:31 am


“My values and Faith see nothing wrong with forgiving a murderer. In fact our faith supports it.” Not exactly, our faith requires it – that is, if we expect God to forgive our sins. That’s a tough one, and it’s probably one of my most difficult struggles. Peace!



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Mick Sheldon

posted May 28, 2007 at 2:45 am


Payshun, What context are you refering to ? The fact is they were carrying them also . THE lORD NEVER EVER REBUKED THAT . Common practice back then by the way .The context you refer to I believe was the teaching of violence does not solve the problem . Would I be correct ?I can not see the Lord saying turn the other cheek if the person was going to kill your child . I think pulling out the sword to stop him would be not only acceptable , but the Christian thing to do . To say different is really a stretch of the Bible context .Again that is why the death penalty is promoted by others , the belief it stops murder of the innocent because it is a deterent . To some its other things granted . Is it a deterent , I would gladly see where your thoughts there would be of interest to this debate , not your out of context Bible beliefs however .My belief in the death penalty as a deterent has lessened because of the court system and the way it has been implied . I know in the state of Washington where three felonies and you go to jail for life has seen a strong decline in certain types of violent and crimes that qualified for that life time sentence , especially in the repeat offender category . So deterents can work .Please consider the victim and future Victims when you are considering justice also, that is Bibical , I would think both of us would agree .



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Sarasotakid

posted May 28, 2007 at 4:01 am


Is there another agenda at play here? kevin s. Yeah, like the guy thinks the war stinks and doesn’t want to help either side? Not too surprising given his prior role in Iraq.



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canucklehead

posted May 28, 2007 at 5:09 am


Where does “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” come into play here?



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moderatelad

posted May 28, 2007 at 5:10 am


Yes – to forgive without the idea of restoration of the relationship is noble. I have had to do that myself as to talk to the person about what has been done would have been useless, night as well talk to the wall. To forgive without talking to the other person does help oneself to be able to move on with your life and able to remember that when revenge rears its ugly head you can say – no, I forgave them. Later – .



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squeaky

posted May 28, 2007 at 7:41 am


Juris: Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.You are correct–I was thinking of “everyone did evil in the sight of the Lord.” My bad. I really don’t think you can use that sentence to show that every man did what was righteous, however. In fact, in context, it’s only said in two places, neither place saying whether or not God saw this as a good thing. Seems a stretch to assume He did. Especially since the entire context of Judges shows Israel constantly “doing evil in the sight of the Lord” and getting set straight by other nations or judges (who weren’t exactly paragons of righteousness) raised up to lead them. In context, I don’t think I can say this is a good thing. If they were truly following the Lord’s Law, I would think it would SAY that–“there were no kings, so everyone did what was right in God’s eyes.” In fact, in the context of the entire Bible, and the human race in general, when people do what is right in their own eyes, it rarely turns out good. Adam and Eve did what was right in their own eyes, and look where that got us. When we do what is right in our own eyes, we become a god unto ourselves, and I think it is far more accurate to interpret that statement as a BAD thing. ‘So, people are sinful and unrighteous, but governments are not?!? State institutions, beyond law and judges, are PAGAN institutions which God specifically warned Israel against, but we expect these institutions to be magically better than people are individually.” True–He did warn them, but they wanted Saul anyway. Jesus doesn’t seem to condemn governments, however, and you think our government is corrupt? Try the Roman government He lived under. I hope you can at least recognize that the Democracy in the U.S. has been very successful, pagan or not. You are free to agree or disagree, but just remember you are free. And on this Memorial Day, I hope you take the time to remember those who have served and who are serving to protect those freedoms. I can say a lot of negative things about our government, and yes there is corruption, but I wouldn’t trade this government for any other in the world, and whether it is pagan or not, hopefully you can at least appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in this nation, including the freedom to worship. “Only believers have had their human nature altered, through regeneration, so only believers can live together in community. Only believers can choose to do what is ethical apart from natural incentives, and only believers are held accountable for doing so.” I would expect to see far more anarchy in our world from all those unbelievers acting unethically. I would also expect to see no corruption or scandals in the church. It is a discussion I have had with my pastor–why isn’t it easy to tell the difference between a believer and an unbeliever? I have seen every bit as much hateful behavior among Christians as I have unbelievers, and every bit as much generousity and altruistic behavior among unbelievers as among Christians. Insights? At this point the best I have is the only difference is we are under God’s grace, and we should never underestimate the power sin has on us, even as believers. Paul wrestled with it all the time. “The only rights we have innate are Life, Liberty, and Property.” Is this Biblical? Sounds suspiciously Constitutional. Again, stay consistent–if our government is pagan, then don’t quote from it. “An outlaw may be hunted down and killed by anyone who wants to.” Well, the wild wild west was exciting, but it wasn’t particularly safe. You seem to be advocating for vigilante justice, which gives each of us the right to be judge, jury, and executioner. God didn’t give us that authority as individuals. If this is the Godly society you are advocating for, I sure am glad we live in a pagan nation where someone is considered innocent until proven guilty. I really don’t see anywhere where Jesus would advocate this philosophy. In fact, to take it to the extreme, if we can’t show mercy to those who clearly don’t deserve it, then the question is, why should God show mercy to any of us?



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 28, 2007 at 2:35 pm


Every man did that which was right in his own eyes. neither place saying whether or not God saw this as a good thing. Seems a stretch to assume He did.Seems a stretch to assume He didn t. The entire context of Judges has the Israelites chasing after pagan gods. Statism was the ultimate form of paganism. Most of the time they WERE following the Lord s law, living peacefully and doing well. It was the exception when they turned aside to worship idols. If you count the years, of the 400 covered in Judges, only about 25% of the time is there trouble. I agree that human nature is evil, but I believe that during the peaceful times the Israelites were following God s law and doing well with no other government than the judges. Jesus doesn t condemn governments? He rejects the political mechanism at every turn. He refuses to become a secular king. He demonstrates the wickedness of government. He insists that his disciples follow him in another way. All government is corrupt. I do appreciate the freedoms we have, and I am concerned that those freedoms are being eroded away by a mentality that recuses itself of responsibility and foists it upon the state. If we continue in this vein, we will have no freedoms. c.f. Hayek s Road to Serfdom. Unbelievers act according to incentives. When there are good laws, they respond to the legal structure in such a way as to maximize their own interests. Self-interestedness is not evil, it actually has many beneficial outcomes. The Natural Rights have Biblical foundations and are true insights into human nature. They are internally consistent and non-contradictory. Are there any rights you would add to or subtract from this list? You do so at the peril of the others. I do not advocate vigilante justice, I recognize an appeal to justice for what it actually is, a surrogate for violence, and as such I have a greater appreciation for it. Someone is considered innocent until proven guilty only by the courts, by an impartial third party. God recognized the need for judges, and that s what He gave them. He recognized the trouble of kings, and withheld them. Again, the Christian ethic is peculiar and ultimately unworkable amongst unredeemed individuals. The strong would merely slaughter the weak. So, we need a political system that will work for those who are merely under common grace and not specific grace. The system of the Judges was just such a system, and the only workable one humankind has ever observed. Nathanael Snow



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 28, 2007 at 5:33 pm


moderatelad, “From one who has been there, done that, got the T-shirt” Considering your definitions re murder, v captial punishment, what did the T-shirt say? “Let him fry!”? One cannot be pro-capital punishment AND be ‘pro-life’ at the same time.



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 28, 2007 at 5:38 pm


“A trial, fair or unfair, will reveal that these men are murderers.” Actually, keven, quite a few trials have “revealed” men as murderers who WEREN’T. What happens THEN? Are you content to put innocent people to death?



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kevin s.

posted May 28, 2007 at 8:35 pm


“Actually, keven, quite a few trials have “revealed” men as murderers who WEREN’T.” This just illustrates the difference that scare quotes make. It doesn’t address my point. “One cannot be pro-capital punishment AND be ‘pro-life’ at the same time.” By this definition, neither can one be pro-choice and ‘pro-life’ at the same time. What does ‘pro-life’ mean, vs. pro-life or “pro-life”?



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kevin s.

posted May 28, 2007 at 8:42 pm


“Yeah, like the guy thinks the war stinks and doesn’t want to help either side?” Exactly. This is simply an effort to oppose the war, which is why he went over there in the first place. This isn’t about “loving forgiveness”, this is about politics. Which is fine. He may protest however he chooses. Would suck if one of our troops lost their life saving Mr. Loving, though.Son: Mommy, how did daddy die? Mother: Well, they went to save someone who had been kidnapped. Son: Another soldier? Mother: No, it was a pacifist. Son: What’s a pacifist? Mother: Someone who believes that war is inherently immoral. He went to Iraq because he thought daddy was violating biblical principle. Son: So why did daddy go save him? Mother: Because that’s the job of a soldier. Son: I wish he would have just let him die. Mother: Me too.



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canucklehead

posted May 28, 2007 at 10:22 pm


“This is simply an effort to oppose the war, which is why he went over there in the first place. This isn’t about “loving forgiveness”, this is about politics.” Kevin s. When did you speak with Jim, Kevin? Your statements are a good example of assuming that everyone in the world thinks or should think like an American, but one of the reasons many people in the world don’t like you very much. Actually, and I can appreciate that its difficult for you Americans to believe this, there ARE people in the world – perhaps b/c they are not Americans – who are capable of rising above the politics you folks are inevitably affected by to attempt to do what they truly believe the Scripture calls them to do.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 29, 2007 at 2:57 am


Well put Canucklehead! You can see that one of the problems we’re having in the American church is this misplaced love of country. I for one really appreciate what James Loney and the other Christian Peacemaker teams have done.



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:12 am


“When did you speak with Jim, Kevin?” Just concurring with Sarasota’s point is all. “Actually, and I can appreciate that its difficult for you Americans to believe this, there ARE people in the world – perhaps b/c they are not Americans – who are capable of rising above the politics you folks are inevitably affected by to attempt to do what they truly believe the Scripture calls them to do.” That’s fine. Are we required to rescue them, then? I recognize that it was British soliders in this instance, but I still think it would have been traigc if lives had been lost saving someone who was making a point, whether that point rises above politics or not. If Loney protests in his home country, he is excercising his rights. When he goes to Iraq, it is another issue entirely.



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:26 am


Mick: What context are you refering to ?Me: The context of Peter using the sword to protect his lord and master. Peter was using his swordly rightly as Jesus even said when questioned by Pilot. But that was not what the father had in mind and peter was not in the right even though I would have done the same thing.I have no problem w/ using the sword to protect but when you look at the lives of the martyrs and how they chose to defend the faith you will see them doing the exact opposite of what you are describing. The martyrs watched as their children were killed and did not strike back. the martyrs went to their deaths peacefully.If your point has merit and the context is correct then why did not they act accordingly? p



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wendy mccarroll gallegos

posted May 29, 2007 at 4:45 am


Thanks for this piece Rose! Yesterday Jim Loney was at the house blessing wof our new faith community home and I barely could get the words out to say-what I was feeling about all he had been through and all the loving compassionate things he has said and done during and following his captivity. Then I read this article today….and I am moved to say… Thank you Dear Brother in Christ for your amazing witness to the Gospel. You are a true and gentle child of God and we all can learn much from your life and from your spirit!



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moderatelad

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:00 am


curiouser and curiouser…05.28.07 – 11:38 am | #One cannot be pro-capital punishment AND be ‘pro-life’ at the same time. curiouser and curiouser… |I believe that you can because Capital Punishment is the execution of a person that has committed a capital crime. Pro-life is protecting the death of an innocent one.As I have stated before – I would gladdly give up the capital punishment if we would put them in prison with no contact with the outside world when it comes to their family and friends. I would allow the jedgement on them to be pronounced as ‘death’ but then allow the judge to communt it to ‘life in prison without parrole’. Have a great one… .



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Cads

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:23 am


If everyone chose to forgive instead of act against atrocities, the Jewish race/religion would have been wiped off the face of the earth. Evil needs to be dealt with forcefully or it will continue until all of the “forgivers” are wiped out. Get real.



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canucklehead

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:59 am


That’s why those reference Bibles that explain what Jesus REALLY meant come in so handy.



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 5:59 am


Moderatelad, well to be fair no one is truly innocent that’s why we die. But I do agree about incarcerating and protecting the public from those that would cause harm. Cads, considering how many genocides, national catrosphies and other horrible events that have plagued the jews I would think there were better ways. p



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Cads

posted May 29, 2007 at 7:24 am


P, No idea what you meant there. I was referring to the Holocaust. Had we been complete pacifists dealing with this historical event, the Jews would have been wiped out, and that’s a fact. Turning the other cheek and forgiving is fine until there’s no one left to do the forgiving. That’s when the bad guys take total control and there’s nothing left. Pacifists aren’t realists. Wake up and realize that bad guys need to be dealt with.



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JimII

posted May 29, 2007 at 8:08 am


At the moment Hitler had risen to power and started putting the Jewish people in concentration camps, things had so utterly fallen apart that we had to chose between horrible options. But if the world had not so relied on ideas of nationalism and militarism in the lead up to WWII would Hitler have ever risen to power? Jesus wasn’t a realist either, I suppose. He asked us to love our enemies. He asked us to care for the poor. He asked us to be faithful, even in our hearts. At any given moment we have to do what is best. We have to do what Jesus would do. I accept that a person can believe that Jesus would support the state killing someone who had committed a crime. (100+ exonerated notwithstanding.) But if you are a Christian, you have to believe that to support capital punishment. I don’t believe that. I don’t think Jesus would say, this one should die for his crimes.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 29, 2007 at 10:27 am


Just concurring with Sarasota’s point is all. Kevin S. My point was that the war in Iraq does stink and that he was right in having his statement to make. I seriously doubt that you were concurring with my point, Kevin. If Loney protests in his home country, he is excercising his rights. When he goes to Iraq, it is another issue entirely. kevin s. What arrogance. As if Iraq were ours and we had the right to be there. I would posit that Mr. Loney’s actions in Iraq were much more consistent with the gospel than our own.



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jurisnaturalist

posted May 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm


We might have rescued many more Jews at less vital cost if we had merely opened the boreder to them and let them in. Instead we turned many away. Christians, if someone in the world needs to be rescued, it is the church that needs to do it. But rescued to where? We must open our homes to the least of these, sponsoring them through the immigration process, and helping them to get established. Stop letting the state fight our battles for us.



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moderatelad

posted May 29, 2007 at 2:45 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 05.29.07 – 12:04 am | #well to be fair no one is truly innocent that’s why we die. OK – but the person who has been tried in a court of law with proper representation and the evidence brought to light during the trial proves that they are guilty of the capital crime that they have been charged with – they do deserve the final judgement. We as a democracy have the right to terminate their life. My reason for suggesting that they be put into a prison and not allowed to have any contact with family and friends is that… 1) the person that they killed will never have contact with their loved ones – the murderer should not have contact with theirs 2) we spend so much money with death row inmates on appeal after appeal, we would be money ahead if we just had them sentenced to life in prison with out parrole and no cantact. Have a great day! .



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm


“My point was that the war in Iraq does stink and that he was right in having his statement to make. I seriously doubt that you were concurring with my point, Kevin.” My point was that this is his statement, so I hald agree with you. This is an opposing the Iraq war thing, not a love and forgiveness thing.”What arrogance. As if Iraq were ours and we had the right to be there. I would posit that Mr. Loney’s actions in Iraq were much more consistent with the gospel than our own.” You haven’t addressed my point at all, but I’m sure it felt good to call me arrogant. You have an itchy trigger finger in that regard.Whether or not we have the right to be there, his being there necessitated that we put our soliders at risk. If a mission to save some war protestor ends in the death of a dozen soliders, then the blood is on that protestors hands. I don’t see where going to Iraq to protest is any more or less in accordance with the gospel than staying in Canada and doing the same thing. The latter does not interfere with our military efforts.



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God's Politics Moderator

posted May 29, 2007 at 7:23 pm


“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This message thread has been visited by a God’s Politics Blog moderator for the purpose of removing inappropriate posts. Click here for a detailed explanation of the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct: http://www.beliefnet.com/about/rules.asp which includes: Help us keep the conversation civil and respectful by reporting inappropriate posts to: community@staff.beliefnet.com 2



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canucklehead

posted May 29, 2007 at 7:52 pm


Woo-hoo, once again Kevin s. gets his hands slapped by the blogmeister. Kevin 6 Me 2 Go, Kevin, Go, and may your Pistons be crushed in the process.



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Carl Copas

posted May 29, 2007 at 8:35 pm


jurisnaturalist: “We might have rescued many more Jews at less vital cost if we had merely opened the boreder to them and let them in. Instead we turned many away.” Quite true. The FDR administration allowed considerations of domestic politics to gain the upper hand in this case. And there was strong antisemitism in the leadership of the State Department, notably Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long.



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Sarasotakid

posted May 29, 2007 at 9:26 pm


You haven’t addressed my point at all, but I’m sure it felt good to call me arrogant.No, not really any more than any other dispassionate statement of fact makes me feel good.



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kevin s.

posted May 29, 2007 at 9:48 pm


“Woo-hoo, once again Kevin s. gets his hands slapped by the blogmeister. Kevin 6 Me 2 Go, Kevin, Go, and may your Pistons be crushed in the process.” I think the numbers are inspector numbers. Like the “these pants inspected by” tags on pants. If my Pistons are crushed in the process, it won’t be Canada’s one and only basketball team. The day Canada brings home an NBA championship, the terrorists have won.



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Bren

posted May 29, 2007 at 10:08 pm


moderatelad’s faith in the U.S. justice system is touching, but not based on evidence. You seem to have missed the news that a number of people have been executed via the death penalty–and only later, discovered to have been innocent. That’s one of the major reasons why I am opposed to capital punishment. Getting back to James Loney: one of the reasons why he was in Iraq, rather than protesting in Canada, is that he and the others on the Christian Peacemakers Team weren’t in Iraq to protest, they were there to WITNESS–to witness that Peace (that peace that our Lord spoke of) is the Way. Killing always seems to lead to more killing, often as revenge and retribution. If we believe in Christ, we need also to believe in peace and the obligation to follow Christ’s instruction to love one another: to love not just those who are like me and therefore easy to love but to love also those who look different, speak languages I don’t understand, know how to survive in the desert when I do not–all of those things that are different but nonetheless that God loves.



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canucklehead

posted May 29, 2007 at 10:23 pm


“I think the numbers are inspector numbers. Like the “these pants inspected by” tags on pants. If my Pistons are crushed in the process, it won’t be Canada’s one and only basketball team. The day Canada brings home an NBA championship, the terrorists have won.” Kevin s. It don’t say Orthodoxy ’til I say it sez Orthodoxy. Leave us the Raptors, but go ahead and take Toronto. And, just so you know, I was one of the Grizzlies’ 8 season-ticket holders.



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Don

posted May 29, 2007 at 10:26 pm


Go Cavaliers!



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Payshun

posted May 29, 2007 at 11:28 pm


Cads, No idea what you meant there. I was referring to the Holocaust. Had we been complete pacifists dealing with this historical event, the Jews would have been wiped out, and that’s a fact. Turning the other cheek and forgiving is fine until there’s no one left to do the forgiving. That’s when the bad guys take total control and there’s nothing left. Pacifists aren’t realists. Wake up and realize that bad guys need to be dealt with. Me: I will remember to tell the martyrs that. They marched proudly to their deaths w/o fear welcoming Christ and singing hymns. You don’t know what will happen. In places like Japan (where Christians were wiped out) you would be right but when you look at Europe the martyrs’ blood was the water that built the church. So again killing people for the sake of war is necessary but don’t pretend to make it noble.Oh and one more historical point FDR knew about the Holocaust for years and did nothing for several reasons. Even though our army did liberate survivors, the government still let thousands die waiting for the right time to deal w/ the Nazi’s. p



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cs

posted May 30, 2007 at 1:32 am


Would this be a good time to point out that the early martyrs were killed for their faith in Christ, not their stance on patriotism, nationalism or pacifism?



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kevin s.

posted May 30, 2007 at 3:02 am


“Leave us the Raptors, but go ahead and take Toronto.” What? You keep the Raptors and we get Toronto? Oh, I take that trade.”And, just so you know, I was one of the Grizzlies’ 8 season-ticket holders.” Ouch… Are you a Vancouverite? I love Vancouver. Sushi is as common as Skittles, and they pay crack addicts to have their tubes tied. “Go Cavaliers!” Utter nonsense. Men in headbands trying to draw fouls. Yuck.



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Payshun

posted May 30, 2007 at 4:29 am


Would this be a good time to point out that the early martyrs were killed for their faith in Christ, not their stance on patriotism, nationalism or pacifism? cs. That’s a great point but they went out as pacifists not raising a hand against the state but standing up for their new nation Jesus. p



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Don

posted May 30, 2007 at 12:56 pm


“‘Go Cavaliers!’ Utter nonsense. Men in headbands trying to draw fouls. Yuck.” Even up, aren’t they? Give us a break; Cleveland sports fans haven’t had a championship in any sport for 43 years! Go Cavs!



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moderatelad

posted May 30, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Bren | 05.29.07 – 4:13 pm | #moderatelad’s faith in the U.S. justice system is touching,Thanks – no it is not perfect but it is better than anything else that I have seen around the world. The slim chance of a mistake these days with DNA is extreamly rare, but is a good argument for life in prison without parrole and as I have added, NO CONTACT with family and friends. I would consider allowing them to receive letters from them but no response from the person in prison. Payshun | Homepage | 05.29.07 – 5:33 pm | #FDR knew about the Holocaust for years and did nothing for several reasons. Even though our army did liberate survivors, the government still let thousands die waiting for the right time to deal w/ the Nazi’s. Guess the UN and the US did the samething with dealing with Saddam. The French did it with the Colonies when we were fighting for our freedom. The World never did deal with the USSR and the Goologues. Guess it might be human nature to weigh and assess the risk prior to getting involved. Have a great day everyone – .



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted May 30, 2007 at 5:05 pm


moderatelad, “I believe that you can because Capital Punishment is the execution of a person that has committed a capital crime.” No, it is the execution of a person that has been CONVICTED of committing a capital crime, whether or not that person actually HAS committed it. “the person who has been tried in a court of law with proper representation and the evidence brought to light during the trial proves that they are guilty of the capital crime that they have been charged with” Again, no. It doesn’t “prove” they committed the crime; it just convinced a jury that he did. How many names of the wrongly convicted will it take to convince you of that? “they do deserve the final judgement” Um, isn’t that God’s job, not ours? “NO CONTACT with family and friends.” So you would punish the family as well as the “convicted”. Such charity. Would you also want them to have no contact with, say, a lawyer?



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moderatelad

posted May 30, 2007 at 5:25 pm


curiouser and curiouser… | 05.30.07 – 11:10 am | #So you would punish the family as well as the “convicted”. Such charity. Would you also want them to have no contact with, say, a lawyer? So – when does the dead person in the ground get to communicate with their family? Their family is being ‘punished’ because they will never have the chance to talk with them ever again. Let’s keep the focus on the ‘victim’ and not so much on the one that caused all of this. My reason for commuting the sentence from ‘death’ to ‘life in prison’ is so we don’t have to spend all the money on lawyers for appeal after appeal costing the tax payers several times more than just putting them in prison with no chance of parole. In this day and age of DNA – finger prints, etc. the person in 99.9% of the time is convicted of the crime which they committed. Yes – all the inmates in prison are innocent and they will tell you that. Sorry – there is someone dead in the ground, your DNA is all over the person. There is motive and just cause for believing you did it, you have no alibi. Their guilty. Life in prison, no parole, no contact. Lawyer – one chance for appeal if the Judge believes that is warranted. Have a great day – .



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Payshun

posted May 30, 2007 at 8:23 pm


Guess the UN and the US did the samething with dealing with Saddam. The French did it with the Colonies when we were fighting for our freedom. The World never did deal with the USSR and the Goologues. Guess it might be human nature to weigh and assess the risk prior to getting involved. Me: Or to ignore injustice when presented w/ options to end it.Eye for an eye, or turning the other cheek, the classic problem. I have done ministry to prison inmates, excons, child molestors and others.I have been a victim of violence and destruction and I can’t quite justify an eye for an eye any more. I don’t know, the victim is dead and cannot be properly avenged w/o the death of the offender. I thank punishment should be there but at the same time I know acts of kindness are what the Gospel calls us to.p



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canucklehead

posted May 30, 2007 at 9:25 pm


Is God a Cav’s fan?



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moderatelad

posted May 30, 2007 at 10:08 pm


Payshun | Homepage | 05.30.07 – 2:28 pm | #I thank punishment should be there but at the same time I know acts of kindness are what the Gospel calls us to. I think that the act of kindness is that they are living and being cared for by tax payers. Eye for an eye – for a one time act of passion, more than likely not. But for a Jeffery Dahlmer, Ted Bundie – I could sign the execution certificate. This is why I would rather put them in prison for the rest of the natural life with no contact with family and friends. I think that the Acts of Kindness could be part of the family of the dead person. If at sometime they would give permission for the family to have contact with the person in prison – then OK, let it happen. I think that they need time to come to terms with never again having contact with their loved one and then come to the point to offer grace to the family of the convicted one to have contact with them. Then the family of the victim has been respected by all concerned. I believe that in many ways this could be a vehicle for redemption of all concerned in the matter. Blessings – .



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Sarasotakid

posted May 31, 2007 at 1:31 am


But for a Jeffery Dahlmer, Ted Bundie – I could sign the execution certificate. This is why I would rather put them in prison for the rest of the natural life with no contact with family and friends. I once heard it said that easy cases make bad law. If you execute those guys, you have to execute other possibly innocent people. I did not feel bad about it when Timothy McVey was executed nor would I have dreamed of being out there protesting to try to save his life. Having said that, the principle of being against the death penalty goes to a larger issue than these individual cases.



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Doug7504

posted May 31, 2007 at 1:53 am


Sarasotakid-right on! This IS a larger issue than just some frightful examples like Bundy and Dahmer. There are many on this Earth whom God is , in a likelihood, not at all pleased with, and in OUR eyes, might deserve death for their crimes. I’ve seen firsthand many years of the judicial process at work, and can say with some accuracy that folks who are acquitted committed the crime, there just isn’t enough evidence to prove it. A great deal of what occurs in court has little to do with facts, or truth, and a lot to do with legal posturing. I can’t put my trust in this system to adequately determine whether or not someone should be executed. I’m not saying it’s inherently bad…just not anywhere close to perfect when deciding life or death. It’s the best we poor mortals can come up with, but not good enough to judge who lives and who dies. Peace.



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moderatelad

posted May 31, 2007 at 2:27 pm


Sarasotakid | 05.30.07 – 7:36 pm | #Doug7504 | 05.30.07 – 7:58 pm | #Yes – Bundy, Dahlmer and McVey are isolated cases and I agree I would have no problem with putting them to death. The others – I understand that this topic is a devisive one, that is why I think that they should have a death sentence commuted to ‘life in prison without parole’ and there should be no contact between the convict and the outside world with family and friends. Some would label this as a living death – fine. But at least they are alive and not 6 feet under like the person they murdered. Blessings – .



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Payshun

posted June 1, 2007 at 8:12 am


Well to be fair jails are not for the caring of prisoners. They are punishment centers. Anyone that has seen a prison film knows that.Rape, abuse, drugs are part of the largest prisons. They are not good places to be. So care must come from other quarters say like concerts… p



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Sarasotakid

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:04 pm


there should be no contact between the convict and the outside world with family and friends. Moderatelad Do you leave any room for redemption here, Moderatelad? I mean I can understand where you’re coming from because when somebody commits a really heinous crime there is no punishment that can atone for what was done. But don’t you want to allow some room for redemption by at least giving this person some contact with society albeit very circumscribed? Don’t get me wrong- I am not asking these questions in an angry manner. I just would like to get your thoughts on this.



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Paul

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:15 pm


Payshun, I have yet to see a prison film that bears even a remote resemblance to reality. Can you recommend one that does a better job? cheers, Paul



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Paul

posted June 1, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Some might find Jeffrie Murphy’s work helpful. He differentiates between appropriate forgiveness and the criminal enablement described here. http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Even-Forgiveness-Its-Limits/dp/0195151496 His section on the death penalty is weak, bot other than that, a very helpful discussion. cheers, Paul



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moderatelad

posted June 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Sarasotakid | 06.01.07 – 6:09 am | #Sorry – should have been alittle more defined in my comments. Yes – there would be contact with others – other prisoners if possible. Prison workers, chaplins – organizations that have a mission to work with those in prison. Please – I am not totally heartless, close, but not totally. (tee hee) I believe I stated that if the family of the victim (dead person) desired to offer grace to the prisoner and their family by agreeing to letting them communicate – I guess I would allow that in a limited contact. This situation would only be imposed on those who are convicted (guilty) of murder. Could also be imposed where the victims life has been altered to where they are instutionalized because of what the person in prison did to them, but definetly for those who commit murder. Have a great weekend – .



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Bill Samuel

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:45 am


What is the death penalty really about? Barack Obama admits that it does not deter, but still favors it because, he says, we need vengeance. (Of course a Christian might respond, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”) And I think it goes even beyond that to being a ritual act of violence. There are many recorded cases of people being executed for a crime when those prosecuting them knew of evidence proving they were not guilty, but suppressed it. In the majority of cases they don’t really seem to have anything against the victim particularly. What seems to motivate them is the desire to see someone killed as a ritual act of cleansing (no, they generally aren’t consciously aware this is what they are doing, but it is evident), so that it be the perpetrator is not terribly important. I believe Christians must take a stand against violence. This is why I strongly oppose Jim Wallis and Sojourners promoting establishment political candidates who support the death penalty, unlimited abortion, and increasing the budget for wars (positions which unites “Call to Pentecost” – a case of false advertising if I’ve ever seen one – Presidential forum candidates Clinton, Obama and Edwards).



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Anonymous

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:12 pm


The 200th person has just been set free from death row due to DNA testing, and the backlog of cases that have requested help from non-profit organizations is overwhelming. This is more than just a theoretical debate – it is also very important to remember it involves people who have been unjustly convicted. They cannot be glossed over – don’t forget, this could be *you.* in fact, I myself have experienced the injustices of the “justice system,” and it is far from theoretical. PLEASE check out some facts on the death penalty and read some of the people’s stories: http://www.innocenceproject.org/ In a strikingly similar vein, the way we have been meting out justice internationally in recent times has also been contested by such upstanding and well-researched organizations as Amnesty International: http://web.amnesty.org/pages/guantanamobay-library-engFor more cultural insight into Jesus’ command to “turn the other cheek,” I suggest reading this very interesting article: http://www.thebanner.org/magazine/article.cfm?article_id=992 Peace.



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Anonymous

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:21 pm


In response to some other arguments on this page: giving someone the death penalty costs more than imprisonment. Check out http://www.amnestyusa.org/Fact_Sheets/The_Death_Penalty_Costs_More/page.do?id=1101084&n1=3&n2=28&n3=99



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Anonymous

posted June 2, 2007 at 2:31 pm


As one more statement, the odds in the “justice system” are stacked against the poor and minorities. In my experience, lawyers are playing a big game, always aiming to win so they can have a good record, no matter what the truth is. Oftentimes justice is whimsically given or not given. Justice is often denied both the falsely accused and rightly accused, the deciding factor usually being what lawyer is hired or what lawyer the defense/prosecution can afford to hire. It’s a matter of rhetoric, the mood of the jury, the political climate surrounding pertinent issues, what evidence is allowed and not allowed, etc.



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Payshun

posted June 6, 2007 at 1:04 am


American Me is brutal and I highly recommend that. If you can hang out w/ some excons. I have had the blessed opportunity to and it really has opened my eyes quite a bit. p



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Susannah

posted August 20, 2007 at 2:08 am


I’m currently researching for an essay on Capital Punishment and how it relates to Imago Dei (man as the image of God)… and I can’t find anything solid in favour of the Death Penalty. There are a few verses touted about that some use to advocate captial punishment, but they could be read a different way.
My own personal stance is that everyone, -everyone-, can be treated fairly and loved into a place where they can take responsibility for what they have done, and reform. I can’t see that from a theological point of view that anyone is beyond redemption but that God does not deal with them directly on the matter — consider the conversion of Paul! — he was involved deeply in the persecution of the church but God got serious with him (probably through a lot of prayers for Paul’s salvation from those he was attacking).
Capital punishment… is treating someone as less than human and therefore against God’s heart.
I know its not likely on this Blog, but is there anyone who can put an argument to this?



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