After 30 years of directing funerals, I’ve come to believe in open caskets. A service to which everybody but the deceased is invited, like a wedding without the bride or a baptism without the baby, denies the essential reality of the occasion, misses the focal point. It is why we comb wreckage, drag rivers and bring our war dead home.
The number of state-sponsored executions jumped 41 percent in 2009 even as the number of death penalty court sentences dropped, according to a report from the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center.
The 52 executions nationwide last year represented a 41 percent increase from the 37 executions in 2008, the DPIC said in its annual report on capital punishment trends.
Karl Barth once asked a poignant question about capital punishment: “Now that Jesus Christ has been nailed to the cross for the sins of the world, how can we still use the thought of expiation to establish the death penalty?” With that in mind, I eagerly anticipated reading this book by Mark Osler, a professo
A U.S. Supreme Court decision this month to ban execution of juvenile offenders is finding strong support among some national religious groups.
The 5-4 decision will remove from death row about 70 individuals who were convicted of murders committed before they turned 18. Prosecutors will also be prevented from seeking the death penalty in future cases of juvenile capital crime.
The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment says its national clergy sabbatical program will continue for a sixth year in 2005. Recently the foundation announced 132 recipients, who will receive up to $45,000 each. The 2004 winners represented 23 Christian denominations in 37 states.
George Ryan, until last month the Republican governor of Illinois, has revolutionized the debate over capital punishment. His genius, such as it is, has been to ignore the great moral and philosophic questions that surround the topic and focus on the pragmatic ones.