September 23rd, 2011
10:10 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - The debate over the execution of Troy Davis may have ended in the legal system, but it's continuing in the faith arena.
A day after Davis was executed in Georgia for the 1989 shooting death of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, one contributor to The Daily Beast asked this question:
How can a “pro-life” Christian support the death penalty?
It’s a question that will probably find its way into some sermons this Sunday. Lee Siegel, though, didn’t want to wait that long to dive into the debate. He says in his piece for The Daily Beast that Davis’ conviction has a “thick cloud of doubt hanging over it.”
Siegel didn’t go into those details, but they’re well known by now. Since Davis' 1991 trial, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered a district court in Savannah to review his claims of innocence in 2009, but District Judge William Moore ruled the following year that the evidence did "not require the reversal of the jury's judgment."
Doubts about Davis’ guilt persisted, though, and helped draw international attention to his case. Pope Benedict, South African anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter said the execution should have been called off.
Siegel says when he heard Wednesday that Davis’ case was in the hands of the Supreme Court, he thought “justice would be done” because three of the court’s justices are “devout” Catholics (actually five of the court’s members are Catholic).
Siegel then invokes the concept of Catholic “seamlessness.”
Catholics are Christians, which leads to another question: How can a Christian justify support for the death penalty?
Some Christian supporters of the death penalty cite the biblical call for an “eye for an eye.” Yet that passage comes from the Old Testament. Christian doctrine is ultimately based on the New Testament and the actions of Jesus.
What do you think? Is there anything in the New Testament that justifies support for the death penalty?
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.