Texas execution and the Bible
Posted by c. wagner on November 10, 2009
Texas (“Famous for Executions”) killed another man November 5. I’m not bringing this up because there was evidence the guy was innocent (haven’t heard of any) or because I have a serious problem with the death penalty (I do), but because of how jurors arrived at his sentence. The jury consulted the Bible to choose the sentence for the convicted murderer.
And what passage out of all of the Bible did the jurors close in on? Not the bit about “turning the other cheek”. Not the bit about “forgiving seven times 70 times”. Not the bit about casting the first stone. Nooooo. They picked Numbers chapter 35, verse 16:
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.
That’s right. They chose the death penalty, not necessarily because of the nastiness of the crime (a shooting during a burglary), but because a line of the Bible said it was the fitting penalty for killing someone with “an instrument of iron”, like a gun.
One of the jurors was interviewed later by a Danish reporter.
He told the journalist he believed “the Bible is truth from page 1 to the last page”, and that if civil law and biblical law were in conflict, the latter should prevail. He said that if he had been told he could not consult the Bible, “I would have left the courtroom”.
I’m officially terrified. Where is my separation of church and state? Why didn’t this get thrown out on appeal? Is there a loophole here that I don’t know about?
I’m also glad that I don’t live in Texas. Of course, I was already glad about that.