there are a lot of gospel songs about the name of jesus. type “the name of jesus” on youtube and you can listen to hours of songs about the power of the name, calling on the name, loving the name, blessing the name, etc. but last night, america chose a different name to proclaim. the moniker in question changes with time, sometimes it is “lynching” at other periods it has been “crucifixion” but it will answer to “vengeance” no matter the era. last night when america re-crucified christ through the nasty, sacrilegious practice of capital punishment, our values were revealed.
certainly, there were those who said “no”. perhaps, more people said “no” last night than have in a long long while in this country. but it wasn’t enough for troy davis and it won’t be enough for the rest of christ’s brothers and sisters sitting on death row. why is it not enough? because americans have elected men and women to office who love humans’ law more than humans’ life. americans have allowed the courts to be filled with well-paid judges who love their jobs more than justice (foolishly we believed they were one in the same). and by doing these things, this very young country has traded reconciliation, forgiveness, and community for strife, grudge, and acrimony.
so where do we go from here, now that we look more like the executioner than like christ? many people who weigh in on the death penalty are concerned with letting those who commit serious crimes live. however, there is too little said about our disturbing obsession with making anyone, regardless of guilt, pay for their indiscretion with their very life. i believe that is where we start. it is fine to state that troy is innocent. after all, he is. but that is not the reason he should not have been put to death. he should not have been murdered because it’s not the state’s place to take someone’s life. in fact, the state has no true authority to lock someone in a cage and control all their movements either. but i’ll save the rant about prison abolition for another day and say simply that we can’t continue to act like the death penalty makes sense. no person of conscience should support it. of course, no christian can support it (theologically or morally; see substitutionary atonement, the lords prayer, the gospels). so let’s stop the death dealing now. let’s fill our mouths with the call for life and forgiveness, with the name of the world’s most famous victim of the death penalty. when we do this, surely there will be no room for the name of vengeance on our lips. His response here
troy davis as a child