Only one demographic rejects the Church’s teaching about the death penalty

but it’s totally not about race or anything and if you notice that it is you are “playing the race card”. The Death Penalty: Because the Magisterium is incompetent to teach about faith and morals when American white conservative sacred cows are involved.

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  • Dave G.

    that’s true. I remember when it was pointed out that White Evangelicals were the the only demographic seriously opposed to abortion. White. Get it. Those rascally white people (and evangelicals no less!). Clearly it’s a good thing we’ve legalized abortion against their vile, racist ways. The Race Card. An oldie but a goodie for progressive thought. I love my boys’ observation: The evils of history often begin in connection with those staking their moral superiority on other issues. I’ve seen little in modern discourse to suggest they are too far off the mark.

    • chezami

      Actually, white evangelicals were supporters of Roe. Abortion was, in those days, seen as a “Catholic thing”. It was not until Francis Schaeffer began to persuade them (and the GOP figured out this was a useful wedge issue) that Evangelicals changed position in the late 70s. Meanwhile, the fact remains that demographically, it’s white conservatives vs. the Church on this issue. You may not like that fact, but fact it remains.

      • entonces_99

        Evangelicals Harold O.J. Brown and C. Everett Koop were anti-abortion from the time of Roe (and probably before). Brown was on the masthead of Human Life Review from its first issue in 1975.

        • Tom

          For what it’s worth, the two dissents on Roe (Rehnquist and White) were mainline Protestants (Lutheran and Episcopalian, respectively).

          • entonces_99

            Their dissents were on legal, not moral grounds. An honest person will concede that it’s perfectly possible to believe abortion to be moral and that it should be legal, without believing that the constitution requires that it be legal.

        • chezami

          They were also minority voices in Evangelicalism until the late seventies.

          • M. Cory

            I’ve been with the pro-Life movement since before Roe and it has been my experience that Fundies (the rank & file esp) are/were at least as pro-Life as 1st World Catholic bishops.

        • chezami
          • entonces_99

            Well, I took, and I read: “Evangelical response to Roe came swiftly. Christianity Today weighed in with a vigorous dissent. ‘We would not normally expect the Court to consider the teachings of Christianity and paganism before rendering a decision on the constitutionality of a law, but in this case . . . it has clearly decided for paganism and against Christianity.’ The editorial continued, ‘It appears doubtful that unborn infants now enjoy any protection prior to the instant of birth anywhere in the United States.’ When prominent abortion-rights minister Rev. Howard Moody said that the Court ‘may have saved the ecumenical movement, avoiding an all-out conflict between Catholics and Protestants on abortion,’ Christianity Today opined, ‘The ruling may promote cooperation,’ believing that Catholics and evangelicals would instead join forces to fight against abortion.”

            Which seems to be, let us say, slightly in tension with the claim that “white evangelicals were supporters of Roe.”

      • Eric

        What do you think of Dr. Feser’s opinions on the matter? I’ve seen you mention him on occasion. He looks white in the pictures I’ve seen of him. He also seems somewhat conservative.. Should we assume he’s a racist biggot at war with the Church then proceed to ignore anything he has to say?

      • Dave G.

        As for the White Evangelicals, my point was that when that was mentioned a year or so ago during some abortion kerfuffle, the *white evangelical* label was dropped as an obvious attempt to link racism/religious fanaticism’ to the abortion debate. It didn’t work. Though exploiting race – which we all know is as bad as actual racism – is all the rage nowadays. Not that race and racism isn’t an issue. It is here, and everywhere.

        Now I’m fine with Evangelicals being ahead of the game in taking opposition to abortion seriously. Even white ones. If they were slow on the draw at first is no big deal. And old track and field fellow myself, I’m far less impressed by a good start. A good finish is where it’s at.

        But the point is, the racial makeup of opponents to abolishing the death penalty is a stat, so it is what it is. Probably explainable by many things. Studying it and analyzing it is fine. Exploiting it, however, is part of that evil that spins around the evil of racism that has become a major part of modern discourse.

  • Eric

    You know, I’d love to see a discussion between Dr.Feser and yourself on this topic.

  • ivan_the_mad

    It is delightful (and brightly amusing!) to see both NCRs make common cause in this matter.

    It is to me an interesting incongruity that those who are often the most vociferous supporters of capital punishment are not infrequently vociferously suspicious of the State’s involvement in nearly all other matters.

  • Peggy

    The idea that white Catholics are “true Americans” is false and flies in the face of a couple hundred years or so of anti-Catholic bigotry and violence by “Know Nothings” etc. It may be that 50+% of white Catholics favor the retention of the death penalty. I see no indication from these stats that white Catholics want non-whites to be executed any more than they want white criminals executed. The point of the article is that different races/ethnicities see the death penalty differently.

    And, yes, about half of Catholics disagree with the more recent (30 yrs) pronouncements against the death penalty. I will also remind that it is often reported that about 90% of Catholic women use contraception. I don’t know the stats on amnesty views, but I think we can also agree that a good portion of the Catholic population does not agree with the US bishops on amnesty. So, yes, many Catholics disagree with the Church on many things. A failure of catechesis I suppose.

    There are some stretching of facts in this article and your post, to be sure. This article and you go so far as to call white Catholics racist for favoring the death penalty.

    I don’t have a strong opinion on the death penalty. It is indeed an ugly thing.

    • Mariana Baca

      Except for the fact that non-whites are executed in disproportionate numbers to crimes commited or population percentages, as well as being wrongly convicted in disproportionate numbers as well.

      There might be an ideal state where the death penalty is applied justly and with mercy. Maybe. But given there are systematic problems of racism (and ableism) in the justice system today, especially in the application of the death penalty, it is worth considering whether its application should be changed until many of the systemic abuses in the system are corrected.

      I don’t think white people opposing the death penalty have that opinion from necessarily racist reasons, but it is a more common opinion I think partly out of priviledge. Same with opinions on increased security and surveillance, torture, and incarceration for certain non-violent crimes. If you don’t fear wrongful or disproportionate punishment, one is less likely to be concerned.

      • prairiebunny

        “Except for the fact that non whites are executed in disproportionate numbers to crimes committed or population percentages” That argument would be valid if white and black murder rates were the same. They are not.A Cornell University study on the death penalty found that black “murder defendants represent 50 percent of all murder defendants in the United States but only 40 percent of those on death row”.
        According to this study blacks are actually underrepresented on death row. How do you get racism out of that?

        • Mariana Baca

          I had read different stats, thus my opinion is different. I’ll have to look this up again some time.

          ETA: My opinion that the justice system has some systemic race problems are not based on one specific stat for one crime, however, but the application of justice and police action across the board for all crimes.

          • Mariana Baca

            I found some links, but I’m at work and don’t have time to put a comprehensive survey. Basically, there are two main issues where racism is seen with regards to non-white defendants: they are more likely to be convicted of the death penalty in cases of interracial violence, and they are a larger proportion of wrongful conviction determinations. There are less death row inmates that are black than black murderers because most crimes are intracial, and juries are less likely to harshly convict if the victim is a minority.

            I’d look closer at what different studies are saying , and not just put out stats in a vaccuum.

        • Peggy

          Whether the application of the death penalty is racist is a different question from whether whites or white Catholics specifically support the death penalty b/c they are racist and want non-whites to face it; or want non-whites to face it more than whites.

          White “privilege” oh, gee. You must have had to attend some of those ridiculous seminars.

          • Peggy

            I should have responded to Mariana Baca.

          • Mariana Baca

            I don’t attend any seminars on race or anything. I don’t use silly expressions like “check your priviledge” or something — or some crazy points tallying system some people use it to determine oppresion. I’m using privilege in the usual sense: that certain social and ethnic characteristic afford benefits.

            College students, for example, have a specific priviledge over inner city young adults with regards to petty crime. College students do a lot of drugs compared to many segments of the population, and even publicize this fact, but very few fear conviction or significant social reprimand for such behavior. This is because the their parent institution shields them from consequences to a degree. The same is true for things like piracy and rape.

            Ethnic minorities face, in their day to day dealings, a far more grim interactions with the justice system than white people. Whether rightly or wrongly, legal immigrants and citizen minortiies face more scrutiny than native white people at borders and in interactions with the police. As such, their perceptions of law enforcement differ. This is what I’m trying to say: that those in more priviledged positions in society with regards to the issues mentioned will have a different reaction with these sorts of issues.

            TLDR: don’t have kneejerk reactions to words as a way to determine tribal alliance.

            • Peggy

              Advantages, perhaps? Benefits of greater cognitive abilities, I bet Charles Murray would say. I say that with a bit of humour, though I think that would be his argument.

              I got challenged by US immigration on a return from a business trip in Jamaica.

              Interestingly you can hear black grads of Harvard and Yale, just like the Obamas insist that there is not equal opportunity; they are disadvantaged, but the average white kid with similar or even a little better grades can’t get into the Ivy League. It looks to me like the minority who graduated from the Ivy League has a lot more advantages than I do, as a mere state school grad.

          • Mariana Baca

            AAs to your first point: I agree. That is what I said. I said that there are two issues at work: there is a pattern of systemic racism in the justice system, which applies moreso to the death penalty because of its permanence and b) because of these differences, ethnic minorities are more likely to have a difference in perception due to this advantange faced by white people. People should bring an awareness of that advantage they face, and whether their perception on such issues would change if they disproportionately affected them.

        • Sue Korlan

          Perhaps the reason blacks make up 50% of the defendants and only 40% of those convicted is because they are more likely to be wrongfully accused by prosecutors. I do not know that this is the case; it’s simply one scenario among many that might lead to these results.

          • D. Marchese

            No, they are more likely to get off on technicalities. When white plaintiffs are pursued, cops & DAs do it right.

            If you knew any poor blacks you’d know that most knew someone who had been murdered and the murderer wasn’t even pursued because he was black and no one cared. They only care when it’s a so-called hate crime. How condescending to suggest that blacks only kill blacks out of love.

  • Pete the Greek

    Edward Feser actually has an interesting post up on this topic. Might be worth a read.
    *ON EDIT*
    I was able to read a little bit more over lunch. Very interesting. I’m still very much leaning against Capital Punishment, but, he makes some very good points.

    It would be interesting to see Mark Shea respond to Feser’s article. Hopefully I’ll have a little time tonight to finish the article.

    • Eric

      Did you happen to read the link in his post to thomistica.net? I thought the post there was interesting as well.

      • Pete the Greek

        I saw the link, but I haven’t even had time to read more than a couple of paragraphs of Edward’s text either. This whole working two jobs thing really sucks!

    • Andy

      Where would I find his post? Thanks

    • Eric

      That’s about where I’m at on the issue as well. Honestly though, I’m curious if Mr. Shea places Dr. Feser in the camp of “Because the Magisterium is incompetent to teach about faith and morals when American white conservative sacred cows are involved”.

      I don’t belive he does. Which is why I this is so interesting.

      • chezami

        Correct. I do not. I’ve not read him on this and therefore assume he does not make the many terrible arguments I’ve read from countless people who hold the Magisterium in open and naked contempt.

  • the rein man

    Yes, and it’s mostly whites that oppose the Obama administration – only because he’s black, obviously. It has nothing to do with his actions, only his skin color.

    Nobody gives a rats ass about race regarding the death penalty. Most people care about violent people running loose in the streets, and rabid socialists in the White House.

    • chezami

      You do realize that we are not talking about the Obama Administration, but about the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, right?

      • the rein man

        You do realize that I am mocking your position by equating it with the position that everyone who opposes Obama must be a racist, right?

        • chezami

          Yes. I was charitably hoping you were not making such a stupid argument, but since you make your plain, I’m now forced to shake my head at the stupidity of your argument.

  • entonces_99

    If it’s really all about race, then isn’t it curious that, after the UK abolished the death penalty in 1965, a number of West Indies colonies (with predominantly black populations) restored the death penalty as soon as they became independent and were free to do so.

    • chezami

      The weasel words are “all about race”. It’s not *all* about race. But if you think race is not a huge factor in America, you delude yourself.

      • kenofken

        It can’t be about race. America’s middle aged white guys have decreed that we’ve moved on from all that, and they’re color blind in their dealings with people. But since liberal race exploiters raised the idea, it’s fair to note that “those people” are inherently more criminal…But’s it’s not about race!

    • petey

      do you see the mistake in your analogy?

  • SteveP

    If a white person is attracted to the death penalty and also actively seeks the Grace of the Sacraments, who am I to judge?

  • iamlucky13

    While it’s clear that a lot of the executions in this country, which this discussion primarily and reasonably focuses on, do not fulfill the very limited allowance admitted by the Catholic church (CCC 2267):

    “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity
    and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional
    teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death
    penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively
    defending human lives against an unjust aggressor.

    …There are an extremely few but still real cases that arise from time to time where I tend to conclude that the death penalty is the only way of effectively defending human lives.

    Mark, surely you remember the Byron Scherf case that was all over the local news a couple years ago. He had a history of kidnapping and rape, along with one attempted murder, and was serving life in the state prison in Monroe. Initially kept under high security during his last sentence, he worked very hard each and every time he was serving a sentence to present an impression of being a model inmate, so he was downgraded to medium security. From that position, he took advantage of the complacency he had cultivated to create an opportunity to corner and murder one of the prison guards.

    When even the people who are supposed to protect us from an evildoer are not safe, what option do we have left?

  • Dave Marchese

    Yes it is racist.
    It can be shown that if you’re white, you’re more likely to get caught if you commit a capital crime. If you’re white (privileged or not) you’re more likely to get convicted. And if you’re convicted and you’re white, you’re more likely to get the death penalty.

    So what accounts for a disproportionate number of blacks getting the chair? That’s the third rail in US politics. But, suffice it to say they commit more capital crimes; it’s just that whites rarely care when blacks kill other blacks and when they kill whites it’s toned down or blamed on them not having enough toys when they were children.

    I’m for abolishing the death penalty in the USA for two reasons.
    1. We don’t really have it so we won’t really miss it. It’s like giving up Brussel Spouts for Lent
    2. Maybe its abolition will free the episcopacy up to do some actual shepherding.

  • Elmwood

    GOP first catholics support the death penalty. i know i did when i was all about the GOP.

  • Benjamin2.0

    Yes. It is “playing the race card.” Whoever you quoted is correct with surgical exactitude.

    If you call race an explanation for ideological differences rather than simply a convenient, visible place to draw ideological lines – as though blackness or whiteness affects our thoughts more than the cultures to which we cling or the talking heads to which we listen – then you’re not only deluded by your particular, favored patch of talking heads, you’re also a race-card-carrying part of the problem. That’s because the idea that race matters more than cosmetically simply is the problem. Don’t even use it to a good end. That end can’t justify the racism.

    I’m white and I oppose the death penalty for principled reasons. Principled reasons, as it turns out, are the only sane means of accepting or rejecting any idea. To propose melanin concentration as a factor in the decision is lunatic.

    The race card is for simpletons and crazies. I permit no exceptions to this formula, even if it is shown that I’ve called the whole world mad.

  • Rolf Pfalz

    Death penalty discriminates against men. How many women are put to death per year?