Friday, February 10, 2012

Death Penalty Proponents Wage War On Religion

When the fellas in the funny hats speak out, the GOP falls in line, and if the President and his Party disagree, ipso facto, they are waging a war on religion.  At least this is how it works when it suits the political purposes of Republican hypocrites.

The United States Conference of Bishops oppose Affordable Care Act regulations that require employers-- including religious-affiliated institutions -- to provide contraception coverage in insurance plans they make available to their employees.  House Speaker John Boehner called the Obama administration’s refusal to accede to the bishops' demands for an exemption “an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.”

Mitt Romney, similarly, called the requirement an “attack on religious liberty.”  Rick Santorum warned that it will lead to decapitation: “What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do, and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine.”

Interesting that Santorum would use a death penalty analogy given the bishops' unequivocal position on capital punishment.  Indeed, the United States Conference of Bishops have been calling for an end to the use of the death penalty for more than thirty-five years.

In 1974, "out of a commitment to the value and dignity of human life, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, by a substantial majority, voted to declare its opposition to capital punishment."

The USCCB issued its first Comprehensive Statement Calling For An End To The Death Penalty in 1980, contending that "the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty," and that "serious considerations" should prompt "Christians and all Americans to support the abolition of capital punishment."

In 1999, their Administrative Board issued a statement that included the following:
We oppose capital punishment not just for what it does to those guilty of horrible crimes but for what it does to all of us as a society. Increasing reliance on the death penalty diminishes all of us and is a sign of growing disrespect for human life. We cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.
 In 2005, the bishops reiterated that "ending the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death and toward building a culture of life.”

Over 1200 people have been put to death in the United States since 1977, when the Supreme Court validated the death penalty statutes of several states and executions resumed.

So, where's the outrage from Republicans?  Why are they not demanding an end to a practice that Catholic bishops vehemently oppose, one that requires taxpayer support, Catholic and otherwise.  California alone has spent $4 billion on a death penalty system despite the urging of the Archbishop of Los Angeles for the passage of laws that would "end the death penalty."

Judges, lawyers, jurors, court staff, law enforcement, and jail and prison personnel of all religions are required to participate in the death penalty process.  Thousands of "condemned" men and women, many of whom have found renewed faith, languish on death row, while others have been executed.

If that isn't a war on religion, I don't know what is.


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