"The death penalty constructed in the Bible is very different than the system used in the United States."
- Bill Thornton, Associate Professor of Preaching Ministries
at Nebraska Christian College
U.S. Catholic Bishops (more information)
"We believe that abolition of the death penalty is most consonant with the example of Jesus, who both taught and practiced forgiveness of injustice and who came 'to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
National Association of Evangelicals (position statement)
"Because of the fallibility of human systems, documented wrongful convictions, and our desire that God’s grace, Christian hope, and life in Christ be advanced, a growing number of evangelicals now call for government entities to shift their resources away from pursuing the death penalty and to opt for life in prison without parole as the ultimate sanction."
United Methodist Church (position statement)
"The United Methodist Church cannot accept retribution or social vengeance as a reason for taking human life. It violates our deepest belief in God as the creator and the redeemer of humankind."
Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (position statement)
“The use of the death penalty tends to brutalize the society that condones it…”
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (position statement)
"The ongoing controversy surrounding the death penalty shows the weaknesses of its justifications. We would be a better society by joining the many countries that have already abolished capital punishment. "
American Baptist Churches (position statement)
"The General Board of the American Baptist Churches recommends the abolition of capital punishment in those states which still practice it and urges churches and members of our American Baptist constituency to support groups and agencies working for the abolition of capital punishment."
Reformed Church in America (position statement)
“Capital punishment ignores the entire concept of rehabilitation.”
United Church of Christ (position statement)
"Be it resolved… that the Conferences be encouraged to assist local churches and individual members of the United Church of Christ to engage in serious ethical reflection and prayer- guided action toward the eradication of legalized execution and the creation of a more just and humane society. We will continue to offer our prayers on behalf of our brothers and sisters on death row and those who enact and enforce the laws which legalize killing."
Disciples of Christ
"The holy scriptures clearly mandate that we are not to kill, we are not to render evil for evil, and that we are not to seek retribution with vengeance for the evil done to us… the use of execution to punish criminal acts does not allow for repentance of the criminal.
The Christian Church expresses its opposition to the use of the death penalty… and calls for the repeal of all laws and statutes to permit its usage."
The Episcopal Church (position statement)
"The institutionalized taking of human life prevents the fulfillment of Christian commitment to seek the redemption and reconciliation of the offender."
Friends United Meeting
"Friends accept the Biblical teaching that every human life is valuable in the sight of God, that man need not remain in his sinful state but can repent and be saved, that God loves the sinner and takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked,” but longs 'that the wicked turn from his way and live.'"
American Jewish Committee (several Jewish position statements)
"Capital punishment has too often been discriminatory in its application and is increasingly being rejected by civilized peoples throughout the world…"
General Conference Mennonite Church
"Since Christ… has given the church a ministry of reconciliation, and in view of the injustice and ineffectiveness of capital punishment as a means for the achievement of the purposes of government, we express our conviction that its use should be discontinued."
Church of the Bretheran (position statement)
“There is an element of God in each of us, and so we must hold all human life as sacred.”
Orthodox Church in America (position statement)
"In an effort to further the respect for all human life and to witness to the redemptive nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who Himself prevented the legal execution of a woman (John 8:3-11) and realizing that premature death resulting from the application of the death penalty can prevent the rehabilitation, reconciliation, and redemption of the offender... the Orthodox Church in America supports the abolition of the death penalty."
Unitarian Universalist Association (position statement)
"The act of execution of the death penalty by government sets an example of violence."
Download our Christian Reflections on the Death Penalty Study Guide here.