An usher was murdered at a Lutheran church in Wichita yesterday. Back in March, Clint Van Zandt reported,
So far this year, churches in 39 states have reported 141 incidents, including shots fired, robberies, burglaries and bomb threats. Some shooters are liberals, some conservatives, some act under the belief that God ordered them to do so while others do not believe in God or organized religion. (Newsvine)
Yesterday’s murder was likely perpetrated by someone who believed he was doing God’s will, since the victim was the late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. As usual, the Phred Felps family, which celebrates all murders, showed up to applaud Tiller’s murder.
Phred Felps himself is a case of how something can start out apparently good and then go awry. In the 1960’s and ’70s he represented many African Americans in civil rights cases. He and his daughter claim they systematically took on and dismantled the Jim Crow laws in the state (more here). Then sometime around 1977, something snapped, and he was eventually disbarred.
I know many people who describe themselves as Pro-Life. Most are quiet and humble. A few have participated in quiet demonstrations, but most have never taken part in any form of public protest. I don’t know any who approve of violence. Of course, some will brand all who are prolife as dangerous fanatics. Yesterday’s violence will be more than a setback for the movement. I suspect it will quietly fade away, at least as far as being any kind of public political movement.
Maybe some will continue to work to reduce the number of crisis pregnancies and to support women who are pregnant in difficult circumstances.
The following may not seem related, but to me it is. Last week a jury in Kentucky spared the life of Steven Green, who had been convicted of murder and rape in Iraq. You could not imagine a more horrendous crime than the one planned and committed by Green. If any crime ever deserved death, it was his. Yet, the jury chose to deal a measure of mercy, giving him life without parole.
This leads me to a simple conclusion: It is time to abolish the death penalty in America. Capital punishment might be a deterrent where it is swift and sure, but in our system it will always be rare and agonizingly slow. It can never be applied consistently, and so it can never be fair.
The Kentucky jury’s failure to choose execution for Green is an insult to the people of Iraq. Than can see it only as an indication that American’s regard their lives as less valuable than the lives of others. If capital punishment had never been an option, at least they would have had the consolation that we had given the harshest penalty possible to the perpetrator of this monstrous crime.
My further conclusion is that the only way to be pro-life is to be consistently nonviolent, and to work consistently for peaceful solutions to problems, however difficult the problems may be.