Is the Death Penalty Dying?
Not yet, but majority support for capital punishment in the U.S. among religious groups is declining.
Since 1996, the margin between those who favor the death penalty and those who oppose it has narrowed from a 60-point gap (78% favor vs. 18% oppose) to an 18-point difference in 2013 (55% favor vs. 37% oppose).
Among most large U.S. religious groups, majorities support capital punishment. Roughly six-in-ten or more white evangelical Protestants (67%), white mainline Protestants (64%) and white Catholics (59%) express support for the death penalty.
By contrast, black Protestants are more likely to say they oppose the death penalty than support it (58% vs. 33%), as are Hispanic Catholics (54% vs. 37%).
The differences among religious groups reflect the overall racial and ethnic picture on support for capital punishment. Twice as many white Americans favor the death penalty as oppose it (63% vs. 30%). Among black adults, the balance of opinion is reversed: 55% oppose capital punishment, while 36% support it. The margin is narrower among Hispanics, but more oppose the death penalty (50%) than support it (40%).
As societal trends and opinions shift, it's vital to understand how these numbers impact your congregation's opinions and insights into the justice conversation.
Copyright © 2014 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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