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Herman: We should promote a culture of life

Herman: We should promote a culture of life

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There are many good arguments to repeal the death penalty in Wyoming and replace it with life imprisonment. Here are my own faith-based reasons to support a bill in the 2021 Legislature for repeal.

I’ve had heart-felt conversations with people who oppose repeal and rely on isolated verses in the Old Testament that people should die for their sins, even contrary to other texts in the Old and New Testaments. Rather than “cherry picking” verses, let me talk about the moral dictates of my faith and how that informs my support for repeal.

The Old Testament and the teaching of Christ call us to protect life, practice mercy and reject vengeance. As a Catholic, I have convictions about good and evil, sin and redemption, justice and mercy. I am called to respect the life and dignity of every human being, even the worst among us. Respect for life applies to all. In the face of a culture of death, every effort should be made to promote a culture of life.

When the state, in our names and with our taxes, ends a human life despite having non-lethal alternatives, it suggests that society can overcome violence with violence. We know that’s not true. Indeed, use of the death penalty should be abandoned both for what it does to those who are executed, but for what it does to all of society. Furthermore, I cannot accept putting someone on death row who is wrongly convicted and/or wrongly sentenced, as tolerable collateral damage necessary to keep the death penalty on the books. That’s a steep price, besides the money. And what for? There is no deterrence, and we already have the means to keep society safe from perpetrators.

Genesis teaches that every life is a precious gift from God, to be respected and protected, even when people deny the dignity of others. I understand the heartache caused by violence. I stand with the survivors. The death penalty does not help. Indeed, calling for the death of another takes me and society directly away from that teaching.



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