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Religion and the Death Penalty
A Call for Reckoning
POD; Published: 8/6/2004
ISBN: 978-0-8028-2172-0
Price: $ 33.50
318 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6.14 x 9.21
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Foreword by Jean Bethke Elshtain

This important book is sure to foster informed public discussion about the death penalty by deepening readers' understanding of how religious beliefs and perspectives shape thiscontentious issue. Featuring a fair, balanced appraisal of its topic, Religion and the Death Penalty brings thoughtful religious reflection to bear on current challenges facing thecapital justice system.

One look at the list of contributors reveals the significance of this book. Here are recognized leaders from the academy, government, and public life who also represent a wide range offaith commitments, including Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. Like many people of faith and goodwill, the authors disagree with one another, variously supporting retention, reform, orabolition of capital punishment. As a result, the book presents the most comprehensive and well-rounded religiously oriented discussion of the death penalty available.

Khaled Abou El Fadl
Victor Anderson
Jeanne Bishop
J. Budziszewski
John D. Carlson
Mario M. Cuomo
E. J. Dionne Jr.
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S. J.
Eric P. Elshtain
Richard W. Garnett
Stanley Hauerwas
Frank Keating
Gilbert Meilaender
David Novak
Erik C. Owens
George H. Ryan
Paul Simon
Glen H. Stassen
Michael L. Westmoreland-White
Beth Wilkinson
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning is a welcome chorus of voices informed by religious faith on one of the most important questions of our time."
The Christian Century
"Offers much to extend and challenge thinking about capital punishment. . . I brought away . . . the humbling realization that Christians hardly have the last word in terms of complex moral reasoning."
Thomas C. Berg
"The deepest issues about the morality of capital punishment are religious in nature, and anyone seeking to understand the debate should consult this book. It contains a wide-ranging set of reflections from a remarkable group of contributors — leading theologians of America's three major faiths, prosecutors and defense attorneys, governors on both sides of the debate, and a Supreme Court justice."
Richard Cizik
"Every evangelical in America should read this extraordinary and compelling contribution to the death penalty debate. I recommend this book without reservation. It challenged my own thinking in ways that nothing else has in years."
Bill Delahunt
"Searching for the truth is a fallible process. The criminal justice system relies on human beings as judges, jurors, police officers, eyewitnesses, defense attorneys, and prosecutors — and all are liable to making mistakes. As a prosecutor for over twenty years, I have long pondered these issues and believe that our society must continue pursuing all efforts to minimize the possibility of error. The thoughtful and provoking essays in this book challenge us to reflect on the death penalty and to consider how we, as citizens, form our ideas of justice; they bring new insight into arguments that span a broad range of views, regardless of profession, politics, or faith. Collectively, these distinguished voices suggest that the debate over capital punishment reflects a broader societal demand to restore public confidence in the integrity of the American justice system as a whole."
Peter J. Gomes
"Informed public discussion of America's obsession with the death penalty is urgently needed, and particularly so among people of religious conviction. This collection goes a very long way toward meeting this need. We cannot afford to be without this resource in this critical conversation."
Robin W. Lovin
"Few issues engage both moral reflection and political choice as directly as the death penalty. Religion and the Death Penalty speaks clearly to both areas in the context of American religious diversity. At a time when the implementation of the death penalty is under intense scrutiny and public attitudes are rapidly changing, these essays focus the moral, legal, and religious questions in the words of people who are familiar with the hard choices."
James J. Megivern
"Religion and the Death Penalty: A Call for Reckoning is a truly unusual book that more than lives up to its title. Its seventeen essays present a fuller spectrum of ideas and positions on religion and the death penalty than can be found anywhere else today. Its special value is that it turns the spotlight on so many of the central issues and lets articulate protagonists and antagonists calmly lay out their arguments at length. For anyone seriously struggling with the religious implications of the complex problems involved with capital punishment, this book presents a unique intellectual challenge. Incompatible positions are argued back-to-back, forcing honest readers to sharpen their own reasons for accepting or rejecting basic points. Wherever one comes out personally, working through the content of this book is bound to leave one with a more nuanced and a better-informed appreciation of what the debate is all about and why it is so important. If this volume were made required reading for all who addressed the issue publicly, the level of discourse would be much elevated. This is indeed 'a call for reckoning' well worth answering. Both the contributors and the publisher are to be commended for promoting a deeper discussion of the intersection of religion and the death penalty, freeing the debate from many of its irrelevancies, and thus bringing more sharply into focus the real issues. It could hardly arrive at a more timely moment in the national conversation."
Viginia E. Sloan
"In my many years of experience fighting the injustices of the death penalty, I have worked closely with people who support capital punishment and with those who oppose it. This book thoroughly captures the complexity of this contentious and emotional issue. Its fascinating and compelling essays move the conversation beyond the usual political rhetoric. Through their religious dimension, these essays pose urgent questions that policy experts, legislators, and citizens alike must grapple with. This is essential reading for anyone who cares about justice in our society."