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Should Christians Support the Death Penalty?

Not all African-American Christians, though have landed on the same side of the issue as the attorney. Earlier this year, several Florida pastors fed up with violence in their community, suggested that the death penalty could serve as a deterrent for crime.

Bishop Terrence Calloway at New Life Church in Jacksonville, argued that "the death penalty is warranted for those who have no regard for human life."

Pastor Ken Adkins of Greater Dimensions Church Fellowship also told First Coast News that "the message is black life does matter."

"When you don't value life. I personally don't believe you have the right to live," he added.

Nationally, a 2013 Pew Research study revealed that 63 percent of white Americans supported the death penalty. In contrast, only 36 percent of black people and 40 percent of Hispanics offered their support.

Rev. Gabriel Salguero, the president of National Latino Evangelical Coalition, also recently spoke out against the death penalty, acknowledging that while "Latino communities have more than their share" of murders, "a major concern Hispanic evangelicals have with the death penalty is that it is part of what in Christian theology we call a 'fallen system.'"

Salguero listed concerns including; the innocent being placed on death row, inequities with regards to race and wealth, and the fact that the decisions of pharmaceutical companies not to sell "cocktails of lethal injections has led to torturous executions," as reasons why his demographic should find capital punishment disconcerting.

Among Millennials, both Shane Claiborne, who founded the Philadelphia-based Simple Way and Jonathan Merritt, the son of a Southern Baptist pastor, and popular author and blogger, have used their platforms to speak out against capital punishment.

Last month, Claiborne, who's also in the middle of writing a book against capital punishment, petitioned Tennessee's Republican Governor Bill Haslam to pardon several death row inmates.

In 2011 he wrote for Leadership Journal, "The early Christians were characterized by non-violence, even in the face of brutal evil, torture, and execution. Of all people, we who follow the executed and risen Christ should be people who are pro-life, pro-grace, anti-death."

"The last 2000 years of Christianity have been filled with those interruptions of death. After all, many evangelicals believe that Jesus' own death on the cross was an interruption ("the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ" Romans 6:23) – according to conventional evangelical wisdom, our sin warrants the death penalty for us all were it not for Jesus. How then can we who have been spared death so quickly become people who are ready to dish it out?"

Merritt, who authored a response to Mohler's piece in the Atlantic last week entitled, "Would Jesus Support the Death Penalty?" told The Christian Post that it was unfair for Christians who embraced the "pro-life" identifier for their convictions about abortion, to also support the death penalty.

"There are evangelical legislators in Tennessee who have worked to re-approve the electric chair as a means of putting people to death in what is a predominantly Christian chair. It is a gruesome, barbaric way of executing, people. In fact, Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic has argued that the guillotine would be more humane than that," explained Merritt.

"Here you have Christians who are speaking out on both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, claiming to be protecting life, those that believe that life is sacred, those that affirm the image of God in humans, not just who they consider to be good humans, and yet they are advocating for a culture of death on the other side of their mouth. I oppose the death penalty because I'm pro-life."

Bringing a consistent attitude towards all human life was what initially catalyzed Olasky to reconsider the death penalty.

"My light and casual reaction, at first, was, Big deal. We've had 50 million abortions nationwide since the 1970s, so why should we focus on Texas's 500 executions? Later, I realized that it's wrong to be cavalier about 500 people made in God's image or 50 million."

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