We need a broader moral reckoning on capital punishment—in the Bible belt, in particular. In a recent forum, we zeroed in on the challenge of problematic theology, which in Shane’s words has turned the Bible Belt into a “Death Belt,” giving moral cover to a lethal human rights violation. Southern states where Christianity predominates are the ones holding fast to the death penalty and using it most often. Last month four executions were scheduled—two in Texas and one each in Tennessee in South Carolina—during a season where Christians everywhere celebrated resurrection.
But it’s worth celebrating Virginia, the “home of the Confederacy,” as the first state in the old Confederate South to abolish the death penalty. The two facts are related, because the death penalty cannot be separated from our history of race and slavery in America.
Ask church leaders to define the words “race” and “racism."