Whenever issues of public ethics and morality emerge in politics, it's a safe bet the Reverend Mark Creech will not be far behind. If you're not familiar with Creech, you should be. Standing on a stack of Bibles tall enough to match his out-sized ego, this extremist theocrat appears to have influence that exceeds both his intellect and his integrity.
Creech's latest web-based sermon, like most of what he has to say, is grounded in a certainty about life that only blind faith can inspire. While we mere mortals struggles with issues of life and death and right and wrong, Creech knows the truth and is happy to spread his wisdom for all to see. His topic of choice is the death penalty.
The primary purpose of the death-penalty is not revenge. It is retribution. In On Capital Punishment, William H. Baker notes: "Retribution is properly a satisfaction or, according to the ancient figure of justice and her scales, a restoration of a disturbed equilibrium. As such it is a proper, legitimate and moral concept. Scripture makes a clear line of distinction between this doctrine and feelings of personal hatred by forbidding such feelings and the actions to which they would lead. Capital punishment as a form of retribution is a dictate of the moral nature, which demands that there should be a just portion between the offense and the penalty."
Let's grant for a moment that Creech's point is valid. Let's assume that there indeed should be a "just portion between the offense and the penalty."
If that's true, then obvious questions must be asked - questions currently being posed by proponents of a moratorium on executions in North Carolina. Is it "just" to execute an innocent man? Is it "just" when some murderers are not executed because they had top notch defense teams, while poor, black and disadvantaged murderers are more likely to pay the ultimate price?
Reverend Creech seems to think that's a distinction without a difference. He goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on dissecting the finer points between retribution and revenge, without once addressing the real questions at hand.
If the death penalty is just retribution, which it is, then it should be administered. If the death penalty can never be administered by a flawless judicial system, which it cannot, then suspending executions to improve its administration will never make it more just.
I'm not aware of anyone who is arguing that the death penalty can be administered by a flawless judicial system. That is a red herring of the vilest sort and it is not the issue those seeking a moratorium are focused on. Their issue is this: Can our system be more fair than it currently is? Given the state-sponsored killing spree currently underway, the considerable controversy about the mental capabilities of some of those being executed, and some fundamental issues regarding race in terms of who gets death and who gets life, there is no question that our system could be improved.
The Reverend Mark Creech is a charlatan of the very worst kind. He manipulates words to make the Bible conform to his own extremist political agenda. The Jesus who saved my soul at the age of nine would be ashamed to be represented by such a man.