Colby Coash can point to the moment his evolution in thinking about the death penalty began.
It was Sept. 3, 1994, and Coash — now a conservative senator in the Nebraska legislature but then a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — decided to go with some friends to the state penitentiary. Willie Otey, convicted of first-degree murder, was set to be executed at midnight, and people were gathering in the parking lot outside. Coash can still remember the scene: the live band, the grilling meat, the revelers popping cans of beer and chanting, “Fry him!”
“You wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the parking lot of the penitentiary and a tailgate. It was pretty ugly,” Coash says now. Even though he went to the event as a supporter of capital punishment, he says, “it kind of changed my heart. I thought, ‘I don’t want to be a part of state-sponsored killing.’ ”
He’s perfectly right, of course–and is thinking with the Church’s obvious consistency about the dignity of human life and its protection from conception to natural death. And note that he is no playing games about distinctions between the grave intrinsic evil of abortion vs. the death penalty. Yes, granted the death penalty is not intrinisically immoral. So what? The Church’s question is not “When do we get to kill somebody?” That is the question the slave of the Right Wing Culture of Death asks. Behind it lies the morality of the tailgate partiers.
The Church asks “When do we have to kill and how can we possibly avoid it?” The practical answer, with respect to the death penalty, is “Never. So don’t do it.” Hence, three popes and the US bishops call for the abolition of the death penalty and there is not one reason, except for a sinful lust for blood, to fight them on it.
Somebody with a consistent life ethic who is docile to the Church simply agrees with this and then gets back to the task of fighting to save the unborn. Somebody who is a slave of the GOP Culture of Death claims that stopping abortion is his core non-negotiable priority–and then proceeds to use the unborn as human shields for his war on the Church’s teaching against the death penalty.
Be more prolife, not less. Agree with the Church. Stop fighting her. Abolish the death penalty. Save the unborn.
Bravo Colby Coash for showing that conservatives can be fully prolife!