Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review

" . . .makes you realize the Dead Man Walking truly belongs on the shelf in the library in the Fiction category."  "Being devout Catholics, 'the norm' would be to look to the church for support and healing. Again, this need for spiritual stability was stolen by Sister Prejean."   The Bourques, Victim Survivors, Dead Family Walking 
 
"On November 5, 1977, the Bourque's teenage daughter, Loretta, was found murdered in a  trash pile near the city of New Iberia, Louisiana lying side by side near her boyfriend–with three well-placed bullet holes behind each head. "

 I. From Dead Family Walking: The Bourque Family Story of Dead Man Walking , by D. D. deVinci, Goldlamp Publishing, 2006, www.deadfamilywalking.com/    contact: T.J. Edler, 337-967-0840
 
 
II.  The Victims of Dead Man Walking
by Michael L. Varnado, Daniel P. Smith
 
comment --  A very different story than that written by Sister Helen Prejean. Detective Varnado was the investigating officer in the murder of Faith Hathaway. 2003
 
 
III.   Death Of Truth:  Sister Prejean's book The Death Of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.
 
Four articles
 
(a) "FOR GOOD REASON, JOE O'DELL IS ON DEATH ROW"
scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1995/vp950728/07210224.htm
 
quote: "The DNA report commissioned by O'Dell and his lawyers actually corroborates O'Dell's guilt. There is a three-probe DNA match indicating that the bloodstains on O'Dell's clothing is indeed consistent with the victim Helen Schartner's DNA as well as her blood type and enzyme factors." "There is certainly no truth to O'Dell's accusation that evidence was suppressed or witnesses intimidated by the prosecution."
 
(b) "Sabine district attorney disputes author's claims in book"
www(DOT)shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050124/NEWS01/501240328/1060
 
quote: "I don't know whether she is deliberately trying to mislead the public or if she's being mislead by others. But she's wrong,"
District Atty. Burkett, dburkett(AT)cp-tel.net
 
(c)  Book Review: "Sister Prejean's Lack of Credibility: Review of "The Death of Innocents", by Thomas M. McKenna (New Oxford Review,  12/05). http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=1205-mckenna
 
"The book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations."
 
"Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers."
 
"This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone's other than Williams's."
 
" . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims,  implies that the victim's husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man."
 
" . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that 'the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.'  " "The same court also did "not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case." 
 
"(Prejean's) broad brush strokes paint individual jurors, prosecutors, and judges with the term "racist" with no facts, no evidence, and, in most cases, without so much as having spoken with the people she accuses."
 
"Sr. Prejean also claims that Dobie Williams was mentally retarded. But the same federal judge who thought he deserved a new sentencing hearing also upheld the finding of the state Sanity Commission report on Williams, which concluded that he had a "low-average I.Q.," and did not suffer from schizophrenia or other major affective disorders. Indeed, Williams's own expert at trial concluded that Williams's intelligence fell within the "normal" range. Prejean mentions none of these facts."
 
"In addition to lying to the police about how he came to have blood on his clothes, the best evidence of O'Dell's guilt was that Schartner's (the rape/murder victim's) blood was on his jacket. Testing showed that only three of every thousand people share the same blood characteristics as Schartner. Also, a cellmate of O'Dell's testified that O'Dell told him he killed Schartner because she would not have sex with him."
 
"After the trial, LifeCodes, a DNA lab that O'Dell himself praised as having "an impeccable reputation," tested the blood on O'Dell's jacket -- and found that it was a genetic match to Schartner. When the results were not to his liking, O'Dell, and of course Sr. Prejean, attacked the reliability of the lab O'Dell had earlier praised. Again, as with Williams's conviction, the federal court reviewing the case characterized the evidence against O'Dell as 'vast' and
'overwhelming.'  "
 
Sr. Prejean again sees nefarious forces at work. Not racism this time, for O'Dell was white. Rather, she charges that the prosecutors were motivated to convict by desire for advancement and judgeships. Yet she never contacted the prosecutors to interview them or anyone who might substantiate such a charge.
 
"(Prejean) omits the most damning portion of (O'Dell's criminal) record: an abduction charge in Florida where O'Dell struck the victim on the head with a gun and told her that he was going to rape her. This very similar crime helped the jury conclude that O'Dell would be a future threat to society. It supports the other evidence of his guilt and thus undermines Prejean's claim of innocence."
 
"There is thus a moral equivalence for Prejean between the family of an innocent victim and the newfound girlfriend of a convicted rapist and murderer."
 
"This curious definition of "the victims" suggests that her concern for "victims" seems to be more window-dressing for her cause than true concern."
 
(d) Hardly The Death Of Innocents: Sister Prejean tells it like it wasn't -- Joseph O'Dell
by Anonymous, at author's request
 
In lionizing convicted murderer Joseph O'Dell as being an innocent man railroaded to his 1997 execution by Virginia prosecutors, Sister Helen Prejean presents a skewed summary of the case to bolster her anti-death penalty agenda. While she is a gifted speaker, she is out of her element when it comes to "telling it as it was" in these cases.
 
Prejean got to walk with O'Dell into the death chamber at Greensville Correctional Center on July 22, 1997. However, she wasn't in Virginia Beach some 12 years earlier when he committed the crime for which he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. That is where the real demon was evident, not the sweet talking condemned con-man that she met behind bars. O'Dell was, in the words of then Virginia Beach Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Albert Alberi (case prosecutor), one of the most savage, dangerous criminals he had encountered in a two decade career.
 
Indeed,O'Dell had spent most of his adult life incarcerated for various crimes since the age of 13 in the mid-1950's. At the time of the Schartner murder in Virginia, O'Dell had been recently paroled from Florida where he had been serving a 99 year sentence for a 1976 Jacksonville abduction that almost ended in a murder of the female victim (had not police arrived) in the back of his car.
 
The circumstances of that crime were almost identical to those surrounding Schartner's murder. The victim of the Florida case even showed up in Virginia to testify at the trial.   Scarcely a mention of this case is made in the Prejean book.
 
Briefly, let me outline some of the facts about the case: Victim Helen Schartner's blood was found on the passenger seat of Joseph O'Dell's vehicle. Tire tracks matching those on O'Dell's vehicle were found at the scene where Miss Schartner's body was found. The tire tread design on O'Dell's vehicle wheels were so unique, an expert in tire design couldn't match them in a manual of thousands of other tire treads. The seminal fluids found on the victim's body matched those of Mr. O'Dell and pubic hairs of the victim were found on the floor of his car.
 
The claims that O'Dell was "denied" his opportunity to present new DNA evidence on appeals were frivolous. In fact, he had every opportunity to come forward with this evidence, but his lawyers refused to reveal to the court the full findings of the tests which they had arranged to be done on a shirt with blood stains, which O'Dell's counsel claimed might show did not have the blood marks from the defendant or the victim.
 
Manipulative defense lawyer tactics were overlooked by Prejean in her narrative.  O'Dell was far from a victim of poor counsel.  As matter of fact, the city of Virginia Beach and state government gave O'Dell an estimated $100,000 for his defense team at trial.  This unprecedented amount nearly bankrupted the entire indigent defense fund for the state. He had great lawyers, expert forensic investigators and every point at the trial was contested two to five times.
 
There was no "rush to justice" in this case.
 
O'Dell's alibi for the night of Schartner's murder was that he had gotten thrown out of the bar where he encountered Schartner following a brawl. However, none of the several dozen individuals supported his contention - there weren't any fights that night. Rather, several saw Miss Schartner getting into O'Dell's car on what would be her last ride.
 
But Prejean would want us to believe the claims of felon Joseph O'Dell. He had three trips to the United States Supreme Court and the "procedural error" which Prejean claims ultimately doomed him was the result of simple ignorance of basic appeals rules by his lawyers.
 
Nothing in the record ever suggested that Joseph O'Dell, two time killer and rapist, was anything but guilty of the murder of Helen Schartner.
 
Justice was properly served.
 
IV.   Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty
 
"It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) - the Mosaic Law prescribed death - should be read in its proper context. This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment .” Sister Helen Prejean, Dead Man Walking.
 
The sister’s analysis is consistent with much theological scholarship. Also, much scholarship questions the authenticity of John 8:7.
 
From here, the sister states that “ . . .  more and more I find myself steering away from such futile discussions (of Biblical text). Instead, I try to articulate what I personally believe . . . ” The sister has never shied away from any argument, futile or otherwise, which opposed the death penalty. She has abandoned biblical text for only one reason: the text conflicts with her personal beliefs.
 
Sister Prejean rightly cautions: "Many people sift through the Scriptures and select truth according to their own templates." (Progressive, 1/96). Sadly, Sister Prejean appears to do much worse. The sister now uses that very same biblical text “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone” as proof of Jesus’ “unequivocal” rejection of capital punishment as “revenge and unholy retribution”!  (see Sister Prejean’s 12/12/96 fundraising letter on behalf of the Saga Of Shame book project for Quixote Center/Equal Justice USA)
 
 
V. Redemption and the death penalty
 
The movie Dead Man Walking reveals a perfect example of how just punishment and redemption can work together. Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have received spiritual instruction, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God.
 
Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it VERY clear that those elements would not have come together. Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time. It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements may have come together for his salvation. It was now, or never.
 
Truly, just as St. Aquinas stated, it was Poncelet's pending execution which may have led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation.
 
 For that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made.
 
In the book, murderer Patrick Sonnier stated: "I don't want to leave this world with any hatred in my heart. I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done, but Eddie done it".
 
Prejean says: "(Patrick Sonnier)  seems to accept that he is responsible for what had happened, even though he claims not to have killed the teenagers. ... I suspend judgment. With the electric chair waiting, with death close like this, who the triggerman was seems not the point."
 
The most important point of any Christian ministry is salvation. If  the most important part of any Christian ministry is saving souls, and Sonnier is lying, and redemption is undermined, that seems a very important point.  What could be a more important point for a death row ministry? Ending the death penalty?
 
In the movie, murderer Matthew Poncelet repeats the final words of one of the real murderers, Robert Willie: "I would just like to say ... that I hope you get some relief from my death. Killing people is wrong. That's why you've put me to death. It makes no difference whether it's citizens, countries, or governments. Killing is wrong."
 
Here, tragically, hauntingly, it seems that Sister Prejean has taught Willie to be an anti death penalty activist. The crucial elements of atonement, expiation, responsibility and forgiveness are replaced by the  classic anti death penalty saying that all "Killing is wrong",  the amoral position of equating murder and execution, violent crime and just sanction, the guilty murderer with the innocent victim - the worst set of messages for the murderer's redemption.
 
In his final statement, Kenneth Gentry, executed April 16, 1997, for the premeditated murder of his friend Jimmy Don Ham, stated: "I’d like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept what’s happening here tonight. To my family, I’m happy. I’m going home to Jesus." As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, "Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. I’m going that way to see the Lord." (Michael Gracyk, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, 4/17/97). 
 
We cannot know if Gentry or the two real murderers from the DMW book really did repent and receive salvation.
 
But, we do know that St. Aquinas advises us that murderers should not be given the benefit of the doubt. We should err on the side of caution and not give murderers the opportunity to harm again.
 
"The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers." St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.
 
 
VI. On God and the death penalty
 
"(Sister Prejean)  received nothing but a stony silence, however, when she questioned the basis of the biblical crucifixion story as a "projection of our violent society." "Is this a God?" Prejean asked about the belief that God allowed his son, Jesus, to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. "Or is this an ogre?" "The audience -- to that point in strong agreement with the author of "Dead Man Walking" -- said and did nothing." ("God, ogre comparison doesn't fly with interfaith crowd", Paul A. Anthony, Rocky Mountain News, 03:35 p.m., August 24, 2008).
 
It is understandable that the audience was stunned. Sister Prejean is questioning the bedrock of the Christian faith.
 
Appropriately, Pope Benedict XIV appears to rebuke her a few days later:  "If to save us the Son of God had to suffer and die crucified, it certainly was not because of a cruel design of the heavenly Father. The cause of it is the gravity of the sickness of which he must cure us: an evil so serious and deadly that it will require all of his blood. In fact, it is with his death and resurrection that Jesus defeated sin and death, reestablishing the lordship of God."  ("It Is Not 'Optional' for Christians to Take Up the Cross", 8/31/2008)  http://www.zenit.org/article-23515?l=english
 
None should have been surprised.
 
It is not uncommon for persons of faith to create a god in their own image, to give to that god their values, instead of accepting those values which are inherent to the deity. Sister Prejean states, in reference to the death penalty, that "I couldn’t worship a god who is less compassionate than I am."(Progressive, 1/96).
 
She has, thereby, established  her standard of compassion as the basis for God’s being deserving of her devotion. If God’s level of compassion does not rise to the level of her own, God couldn’t receive her worship.
 
Director Tim Robbins (Death Man Walking) follows that same path, "(I) don’t believe in that kind of (g)od (that would support capital punishment and, therefore, would be the kind of god who tortures people into their redemption)." ("Opposing The Death Penalty", AMERICA, 11/9/96, p 12). Robbins establishes his standard for his God’s deserving of his belief. God’s standards do not seem to be relevant. Robbins' sophomoric comparison of capital punishment and torture are typical of the ignorance in this debate, are remarkably similar to the ogre message from Sister Prejean in Denver and reflect no biblical relevancy.
 
The movie scene where Poncelet is raised, vertical, arms outstretched on the gurney, seems an obvious recreation -  a visual representation of Christ's crucifixion. That was a conscious decision on the part of director Tim Robbins. It was not in the book and no execution gurney raises in such a fashion.  Would it be a reach to call that blasphemous?
 
Perhaps they should review Matthew 5:17-22 and 15:1-9.
 
And be cautious, for as the ancient rabbis warned, "Do not seek to be more righteous than your creator." (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33)
 
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail  sharpjfa@aol.com,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

 

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  • 5/19/2009 3:00 AM Rev Roger Wolsey wrote:
    Mr. Sharp sure has a sharp edge to grind. For the first 313 years of Christianity, Christians opposed capital punishment and serving in the military. It wasn't until Constantine co-opted Christianity that the faith was weakened and accomodated to worldly ways and means; e.g. the creation of "just warfare," etc.

    Moreover, the Mennonites, Quakers, Amish, and Brethren remain opposed to war and the death penalty for theological reasons and all of those faiths predate Sister Prejean by many years. Moreover, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, and several other mainline denominations are opposed to capital punishement for theological reasons; i.e. that Jesus' death was to be understood as the last sacrifice; that humans aren't to play God by determining how and when people die; that since Christianity is about reconciliation and conversion of souls, there can be no reconciliation or conversion if the government kills someone as this prevents those processes from occuring; and finally, that it is oxymoronic for the State to kill people to teach people that killing people is wrong.

    Mr. Sharp overstates his case by asserting that "Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have received spiritual instruction, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God." While Poncelt might not have met Prejean if he hadn't been on death row, how could Sharp possibly assert that that would be the only way for Poncelt to have had spiritual instruction or to have come to God?"

    Talk about creating a fiction.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/19/2009 6:41 AM Dudley Sharp wrote:
      Context is very important. You left out the rational for the clarity.

      The following paragraphs explained the reason for my assertions and the word "may" was used twice as a hedge for my earlier assertions. Furthermore, I was dealing with the film character Poncelet, which gives me much more latitude.

      This is the context and note the circumstance when I switch to the real human being, whose comments I have confirmed as true.

      Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it VERY clear that those elements would not have come together. Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time. It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements may have come together for his salvation. It was now, or never.

      Truly, just as St. Aquinas stated, it was Poncelet's pending execution which may have led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation.

      For that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made.

      In the book, murderer Patrick Sonnier stated: "I don't want to leave this world with any hatred in my heart. I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done, but Eddie done it".

      Prejean says: "(Patrick Sonnier) seems to accept that he is responsible for what had happened, even though he claims not to have killed the teenagers. ... I suspend judgment. With the electric chair waiting, with death close like this, who the triggerman was seems not the point."

      The most important point of any Christian ministry is salvation. If the most important part of any Christian ministry is saving souls, and Sonnier is lying, and redemption is undermined, that seems a very important point. What could be a more important point for a death row ministry? Ending the death penalty?

      In the movie, murderer Matthew Poncelet repeats the final words of one of the real murderers, Robert Willie: "I would just like to say ... that I hope you get some relief from my death. Killing people is wrong. That's why you've put me to death. It makes no difference whether it's citizens, countries, or governments. Killing is wrong."

      Here, tragically, hauntingly, it seems that Sister Prejean has taught Willie to be an anti death penalty activist. The crucial elements of atonement, expiation, responsibility and forgiveness are replaced by the classic anti death penalty saying that all "Killing is wrong", the amoral position of equating murder and execution, violent crime and just sanction, the guilty murderer with the innocent victim - the worst set of messages for the murderer's redemption.

      I agree that only God and the individual can speak to salvation.
      Reply to this
      1. 5/19/2009 7:19 AM Dudley Sharp wrote:
        Rev. Wosley appears to presume that Constantine, somehow, got it wrong. What Constantine did was assert that which was biblically and theologically correct. Nearly 2000 years of biblical and theological writings offer great support for Constantine, for both war and the death penalty.

        Quaker, biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey: " . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none."

        "It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." (p. 111-113)"

        Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer:

        ". . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy." (p. 116).

        synopsis of "A Bible Study".from Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992. Dr. Carey was a Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College.

        -----------------------------

        The biblical & theological record supportive of the death penalty overwhelms any alleged teachings for its demise.

        Preeminent Christian Voices Supportive of Capital Punishment
        http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/17/gov-richa...

        Modern Catholic Scholars: Death Penalty Support
        http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/18/catholic-...

        Pope John Paul II: His death penalty errors
        http://homicidesurvivors.com/2007/07/23/pope-john...

        Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty
        http://homicidesurvivors.com/2006/10/12/catholic-...
        Reply to this
  • 5/19/2009 7:21 AM Dudley Sharp wrote:
    Rev. Wosley repeats a common and irrational anti death penalty saying: " it is oxymoronic to kill people to teach people that killing people is wrong."

    Even with no sanction, most folks know that committing murder is wrong. We execute guilty murderers who have murdered innocent people. The difference between crime and punishment, guilty murderers and their innocent victims is very clear to most.

    The moral confusion exists when people blindly accept the amoral or immoral position that all killing is equal.

    The anti death penalty folks are looking at an act -- "killing" -- and saying all killings are the same. Only an amoral person would equate acts, without considering the purpose behind them.

    For those, like some anti death penalty folks, who believe all killing is morally equivalent, they would equate the slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews and 6-7 million additional innocents with the execution of those guilty murderers committing that slaughter. They would also equate the rape and murder of children with the execution of the rapist/murderer.

    This is what the anti death penalty folks do, morally equate killing (murder) with the punishment for that murder, another killing (execution).

    For such anti death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution).

    Most folks understand the moral differences.

    Some anti death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest slogan by equating killing (murder) with killing (execution).
    Reply to this
    1. 5/19/2009 8:02 AM Rev Roger Wolsey wrote:
      Dudley,
      1. That "Quaker scholar" does not represent the Quaker stance on that matter and you know it.
      2. The "divine decree" which you reference doesn't necessarily apply to the Gentile world, but perhaps, arguably, to the Jewish people.
      3. It strikes me as peculiar how literally you seem to interpret passages of the Bible, but I doubt if you read all passages that way. If you do, you don't eat pork, wear clothing of mixed fibers, or approve of women initiating divorce, or of remarriage. If you don't then you are inconsistent in how you read the Bible.
      4. Augustine and Aquinas had many great thoughts about the faith, but they certainly had the effect of bastardizing the faith by accommodating it to worldly norms and values.
      5. I'm amazed that you came across this article that was just published in an obscure magazine from Boulder. If I'm not mistaken, you neither live in Boulder, nor Colorado. It occurs to me that you may have some sort of odd obsession with Helen Prejean that compels you to google her name everyday to seek out new articles and news reports about her so that you can lob in your 2cents worth of criticism of her. Did she sell you a bad car one time or something?
      Reply to this
      1. 5/14/2012 8:12 AM Dudley Sharp wrote:
        Rev. Wosley:

        I recently had a Quaker inquiry into my work, which promted more review, which resulted in:

        Death Penalty: Reconsidering the Quaker Position
        Dudley Sharp

        Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.

        5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one's Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.

        6 He that sheds Man's Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.

        Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal.
        ----------

        Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey:

        " . . . the decree of Genesis 9:5-6 is equally enduring and cannot be separated from the other pledges and instructions of its immediate context, Genesis 8:20-9:17; . . . that is true unless specific Biblical authority can be cited for the deletion, of which there appears to be none. It seems strange that any opponents of capital punishment who professes to recognize the authority of the Bible either overlook or disregard the divine decree in this covenant with Noah; . . . capital punishment should be recognized . . . as the divinely instituted penalty for murder; The basis of this decree . . . is as enduring as God; . . . murder not only deprives a man of a portion of his earthly life . . . it is a further sin against him as a creature made in the image of God and against God Himself whose image the murderer does not respect." (p. 111-113) "A Bible Study", within Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992. Carey was a Professor of Bible and Past President of George Fox College.
        ----------

        Quaker leadership

        Quaker founder George Fox was only opposed the death penalty for lesser crimes, such as stealing, but not for murder. I have found no evidence that he opposed capital punishment for all crimes.

        The other major figure in Quaker history was William Penn who, " . . . in the preface to the "First Frame of Government", argued for the divine right of government to "terrify evildoers" . . ."

        In the Pennsylvania Holy Experiment of Quaker government " . . . capital punishment was only allowed for treason and murder." "However, in 1700 mutilation and branding were added, and in 1718 the provincial (Quaker) assembly extended the death penalty to twelve more felonies."

        " . . . Quakers in the assembly said that killing a soldier, whose sole crime was obeying his sovereign, was vastly different from executing a murderer or a burglar for violating laws, (which was proper)." "Quakers: Fox and Penn's Holy Experiment", Guides to Peace and Justice from Ancient Sages to the Suffragettes, HISTORY OF PEACE - Volume 1, by Sanderson Beck, World Peace


        contd
        Reply to this
  • 5/19/2009 10:47 AM Dudley Sharp wrote:
    Rev. Wolsey:

    I never implied that Carey's writings were the only Quaker stance on the matter. His is, however, a thoughtful, intelligent writer, a biblical scholar and past President of George Fox College.

    You mentioned Quakers, as did I. It is the reasonable exchange of ideas.

    The teachings in Genesis, theologcally, are for all people and all times. If you have some writings which contradict that, please present them.

    You may have noticed that I don't interpret passages of the bibie. I use the words of biblical scholars, theologians, Popes, saints, and other of the religious, etc.

    I don't question the biblical words of God, ever. The ONLY reason I present the material is in the context of Christian support for the death penalty. That is the topic I am dealing with. If you wish to challenge the words and instructions of God for other topics, you are welcome to do so.

    I counter the nonsense that there isn't strong, consistent biblical and theological teachings in Christianity.

    I don't need biblical support. For me, the death penalty is a just and appropriate sanction for some crimes.
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  • 10/19/2011 7:17 PM shamgar wrote:
    thank god for the clarity of mr. sharp.u know that one of the most malovent men of the second half of the 20th cen. was a reprobated irish am. cath. william f. brennan certainly a judicial rodent of monsterous magnitude and the prime reason murderers infest our streets and communities/!don,t forget the blasphemous am. bar assoc. and the larcenous law schools which have wanted a feminized judiciary for decades!well they have acomplished their nefarious goals as is well attested here in fl. with the feminized fl. supreme court alevel of defeatism and pusillaminous pipsqueaks unrivaled in the annals of written hist.!!public saftey is now a thing of the past and it is every man out for himself the honest citizen barricading himself in his house each nite while outside his door roam sodomites childmolesters necromancers perverts demomiacs kidnappers a scene isiah described in the first chap. of his prophesy verse 21!!!this is the result of the ivy league whorehouse in n.h. conn. has personally propogated for a cent. baal goes to yale!the noxious n.y. times can also rejoice along with npr radio by quissilling!
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