State-sponsored execution is an affront to God’s law

September 27, 2011

Statement from the Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City on HB11 a bill to reinstate the use of the firing squad in Utah

A recent debate in the Utah House of Representatives seems to suggest growing recognition among legislators of the precarious place any state occupies when it tries to take on a role best left to God. Representatives debated HB 11 Death Penalty Amendments, a bill that would reinstate death by firing squad for those convicted of capital crimes. While the death penalty in any form is abhorrent, strapping a person to a chair with a hood over his head and a bull’s eye on his heart creates a disturbing image of the individual as little more than a target at a shooting range. This dehumanization of life is troubling, to say the least. But it is not just the inherent violence in any intentional destruction of human life that we should denounce. At its core, the death penalty is repugnant to us because of our firmly held belief that only God can give life and, consequently, only God can rightly take it away…