The Providence Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has watched with concern as our state considers reinstituting capital punishment and our nation ponders its increased application. After much reflection we collectively and individually wish to reaffirm our longstanding opposition to the death penalty.
We share a deep reverence for human life and understand that the most basic foundations of Christian belief deny us the right to take another life, either in murder or as punishment.
We are aware of both the truly horrendous and the routine acts of violence committed in our society. We share the horror and pain of others at these crimes. Yet we feel that capital punishment is not justice but vengeance - akin to "taking an eye for an eye," or cutting off the hand of a thief - acts most Americans would find reprehensible as cruel and unusual. It is certainly not cheaper than life imprisonment - nor has it been shown to reduce the murder rate. It is murder for murder, and as such, has, in fact, a debasing effect on the community. It tends to produce the very brutality it seeks to prevent.
A legal execution requires each of us to participate in another person's death as citizens and representatives of the government that sanctions this type of punishment. We wish to state emphatically that we do not want our public servants to kill in our name or our taxes to be used in this way. We will continue to stand in opposition to such efforts.
Reflecting the Friends' peace-seeking traditions we wish to encourage emphasis on prevention of criminal acts rather than punishment, and when punishment is called for, that all persons ought to be given an opportunity to feel remorse and to reform. We believe that there is God in everyone and that all persons have the potential to respond to some degree to God's Light.
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