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Issue Briefs

Capital Punishment

An Overview of Christian Perspectives

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June 9, 2014

Capital punishment, or the death penalty, refers to the execution by the state of those guilty of certain crimes.

Theologically, most mainline Protestant churches, such as Presbyterian Church in the USA, many Episcopal, and Lutheran churches, oppose the death penalty. Even some historically evangelical churches such as the United Church of Christ and many Methodist and Baptist churches opposed capital punishment. The Roman Catholic Church supports capital punishment in principal but holds that current application is unnecessary since we have matured as a culture. On the other hand, most Protestant conservatives, including the majority of members of the Southern Baptist Convention, and other growing evangelical movements such as Reformed Christians and Conservative Baptists, support capital punishment on biblical grounds. 

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Barrett Duke

Barrett Duke is the former Vice President for Public Policy and Research, at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He is now the executive director of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. Read More by this Author

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is the author of The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible, and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator. He also serves as an executive pastor at the McLean Bible Church Arlington location in Arlington, Virginia. Read More