McLAUGHLIN: ‘Pro-life’ should mean anti-capital punishmentDonald Moeller’s execution date has been set, but I do not see any of the pro-lifers taking notice and opposing this execution.
By: The Rev. Kristi McLaughlin, Guest columnist
“Thou shalt not murder.” It’s the foundation of the Christian pro-life movement, and yet many within the pro-life movement do not take the time to research the Hebrew understanding of when “life” begins.
According to Rabbi Raymond A. Zwerin and Rabbi Richard J. Shapiro, Jewish, i.e. Hebrew, law does not grant personhood status to a fetus. To quote, “Rashi, the great 12th century commentator on the Bible and Talmud, states clearly of the fetus ‘lav nefesh hu’ — it is not a person. The Talmud contains the expression ‘ubar yerech imo’ — the fetus is as the thigh of its mother, i.e., the fetus is deemed to be part and parcel of the pregnant woman’s body.”
I find it interesting that claiming to be pro-life is really a pronouncement of being against abortion rather than a consistent ideology of being pro-life.
To me, being pro-life means supporting all policies, systems, legislation, budgets, etc., that support and honor life and opposing all of the above that take from life. Being prolife means one sees the life-taking effects of poverty and works to overcome systems that keep people poor, including acknowledging that tax breaks for the most wealthy do nothing to help the poor. Being pro-life includes health care for all regardless of ability to pay, previous medical conditions or ability to obtain insurance. It means quality education, access to nutritious food (has anyone tried to feed a family a healthy diet on food stamps only?). It means preservation of the earth, and it even means opposition to the death penalty, which brings me to the point of this column.
Donald Moeller’s execution date has been set, but I do not see any of the pro-lifers taking notice and opposing this execution. Is state execution not “murder”? Or is murder OK if state-mandated?
Where are the pro-lifers who quote the words of Scripture adamantly opposing two people of same sex who love one another and seek “life” together in a committed monogamous relationship?
It seems that once again, we have a selective pro-life movement that has a passion for “life” but only in its own very narrow definitions.
Donald Moeller took a life — a young beautiful life. What he did is tragic, violent and awful. I cannot imagine what breaks so terribly within a human that one would be able to do such terrible things. Donald Moeller broke the Hebrew instruction, “Thou shalt not murder,” but his is a life as well and for those of us who claim to be Christians (let alone pro-life) to stand silently by as he is executed does nothing for our case as Christians. It does nothing for our case that we believe in a God of forgiveness, mercy, grace and love. It does nothing for our case that we follow the way of Jesus who welcomed and sat with thieves, prostitutes, and sinners — a Jesus who opposed violence.
To quote Sister Helen Prejean, “Jesus Christ, whose way of life I try to follow, refused to meet hate with hate and violence with violence. I pray for the strength to be like him. I cannot believe in a God who metes out hurt for hurt, pain for pain, torture for torture. Nor do I believe that God invests human representatives with such power to torture and kill. The paths of history are stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to ‘God’s Avengers.’ Kings, popes, military generals, and heads of state have killed, claiming God’s authority and God’s blessing. I do not believe in such a God.”
Sister Prejean, neither do I.
Kristi McLaughlin is the pastor of Anew United Church of Christ in Mitchell.