Discussion concerning whether or not the death penalty is right or wrong, is a topic that has been ongoing since it’s inception. Shane Claiborne, author of ‘Executing Grace,’ will expound upon his view on the subject Nov. 20, in Lucasville and Portsmouth. Both events are free and open to the public.
Claiborne is also founder of ‘The Simple Way,’ which is a faith community inner city Philadelphia, Penn. and Red Letter Christians, which is a network committed to living, “as if Jesus meant the things he said.” Shane is one of the principal figures in The New Monastic Movement. Claiborne has also worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and served on peace delegations to Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the West Bank, according to a news release.
Claiborne told the Daily Times that his view of the death penalty changed over the course of his life.
“I am against the death penalty, but I grew up much of my life for the death penalty, raised in the church in Tennessee, and It is only as I became confronted first hand with people directly affected by the death penalty that it became so troubling,” Claiborne said. “I interview many of these people, folks that have the terrible past of executing people and hearing what it did to them, the former executioners, folks that were wrongfully convicted and later proved Innocent by DNA, and other evidence. As I got more involved with it, it particularly caught my interest because it raises some very deep,spiritual questions about how we we understand and think about justice, about the question is anyone beyond redemption.”
Claiborne believes that the death penalty is accepted and supported too much among many Christians. He stated there are better alternatives to the death penalty.
“Sadly, as I say in the book, the death penalty is survived in America, not inspite of Christians, but because of us,” Claiborne said. “And wherever Christians have been most concentrated is where executions continue to happen. So for me as a Christian that is very troubling. A lot of the events that I will be doing here in Ohio will be with what we call,” exonorees”, those who were exonerated after being sentenced to death, and murder victims’ families, who really have become my heroes, and have found better ways forward other than killing, to show that killing is wrong.”
Lorry Swain, coordinator of Scioto Peace and Justice-Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), said many local readers have read Claiborne’s book, ‘Executing Grace,’ and having him speak in Lucasville is appropriate due to the topic at hand.
“We are a branch of Fellowship of Reconciliation or FOR, and that is a national and international organization has been here in the United States. For 100 years they’ve been working around peace and justice and resisting violence,” Swain said. “It is a Pacifists organization and we have a branch here in Scioto County.There are a lot of people in the local community that have read his (Claiborne’s) recent book, which is ‘Executing Grace,’ and is generally about the church and the death penalty. His position is, and our position is that we really need to abolish the death penalty. His first visit will be at a church in Lucasville, Pleasant Valley Community of Christ, which is so close to the location where executions take place. So, this seemed like a really good place for him to come and speak about this.”
Many questions are raised when discussing the death penalty. Other things to be considered aligned with biblical faith is grace and forgiveness, according to Claiborne.
“Ohio is one of those places that is really wrestling with this issue, and so part of what I really hope to do is just tell stories that show the human cost of what we’re doing, and also raise questions about things. I think there is a lot of mis-information about the death penalty, so I’ve done a lot of listening and studying on it, and I am very encouraged because I think there are conservatives that are against the death penalty because it is overtly clear that it costs more to keep the death penalty than alternatives to it,” Claiborne said. “There’s questions about innocence, and do we trust our Government with this irreversible power of life and death, when it is very clear that we have kind of gotten it wrong time and time again. So for me I think it is about the stories of humanity on the bottom of every page in the book with names of folks who have been executed. And there are stories about grace and forgiveness, and what I really believe is that there are better forms of justice than killing to show that killing is wrong, just as we don’t rape, to show that rape is wrong. I think we can both take evil seriously, and do something about people that are dangerous without taking their lives, and mirroring everything that we teach our kids not to do.”
Claiborne will speak on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at Pleasant Valley Community of Christ located at 723 Sedan Crabtree Road in Lucasville, where Claiborne will deliver the message. A community meal open to all will follow the service.
Claiborne will also speak on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, at 2 p.m. at a Community Forum open to the public and led by Shane Claiborne at All Saints Episcopal Church 610 4th Street in Portsmouth.
Both events are free and open to the public.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-464-3862, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.
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