Khristian Oliver murdered a man in 1999 by shooting him in the face and then beating him with his own rifle. He is scheduled to be put to death on November 5th.
I have no sympathy for him. He should be behind bars for an indefinite amount of time.
It later emerged that while deciding whether he should be given the death penalty, jurors consulted the Bible. Four jury members admitted that several copies had been in the jury room and that highlighted passages were passed around.
At one point, a juror reportedly read aloud from a copy, including the passage: “And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.”
Defence lawyers argued in appeals that jurors had been improperly influenced by the Bibles but the trial judge rejected the claim, a decision upheld by a Texas appeals court.
If we’re consulting the Bible to decide the fate of criminals (or even the accused), we’re heading down a slippery slope. What’s next? Sentencing homosexuals to death for acting on their sexual preferences?
(And on the flip side, couldn’t they just as easily have cherrypicked the Bible to reduce his penalty and forgive him altogether?)
The Bible is not a good source of morality. That’s obvious. The number of barbaric passages in it are too many to count. We make laws in this country precisely because we have to come up with our own set of guidelines — we can’t get them from other places, certainly not from holy books.
But even if the jurors didn’t have Bibles in the room, resorting to their religious beliefs to decide the case and the penalty would have been equally as misguided. Just like judges, jurors must decide cases based on their own merits and the law of the land. Religion cannot come into play.
(Thanks to everyone for the link.)
Stay in touch! Like Friendly Atheist on Facebook: