"...for Christians vengeance is no virtue."
January 23, 2009
To: The Honorable Members of the Montana Legislature
From: The Right Reverend C. Franklin Brookhart, Bishop of Montana
Re: Abolition of the Death Penalty in Montana
As the official spokesperson for The Episcopal Church in this state, allow me to say that my church has on a number of occasions and at the highest level of decision-making affirmed its opposition to the death penalty and called for a moratorium on all executions.
In a more personal tone, three questions come to my mind as I think about this moral, ethical, and legal issue. First, is the death penalty a matter of justice or vengeance? In my conversations over the years with a variety of people, I have heard mostly the language of vengeance and violence. And for Christians vengeance is no virtue.
Second, can our legal system be fair and accurate in administering the death penalty? I am concerned about the large number of reversals in the capital punishment sentences in recent years in light of newly emerging forensic science. It also disturbs me that this penalty is given to so many minority people, that is, people who are without the financial or educational resources to deal with our cumbersome legal system.
Third, does the death penalty serve the common good? I have seen no research that indicates that it acts as a deterrent to violent crime. I cannot see how it makes us a better nation, that is, a more compassionate and fair society. And it clearly does not set a good example for individual conduct or moral maturity.
For these reasons I urge you to abolish the death penalty in this state.
C. Franklin Brookhart
9th Bishop of Montana