Reimagining the Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives

46 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2020 Last revised: 25 Aug 2021

See all articles by SpearIt


University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: July 15, 2020


This Article is an interdisciplinary response to an entrenched legal and cultural problem. It incorporates legal analysis, religious study and the anthropological notion of “culture work” to consider death penalty abolitionism and prospects for abolishing the death penalty in the United States. The Article argues that abolitionists must reimagine their audiences and repackage their message for broader social consumption, particularly for Christian and conservative audiences. Even though abolitionists are characterized by some as “bleeding heart” liberals, this is not an accurate portrayal of how the death penalty maps across the political spectrum. Abolitionists must learn that conservatives are potential allies in the struggle, who share overlapping ideologies and goals. The same holds true for Christians—there is much in the teachings of Jesus to suggest that he aligned more with forgiveness than capital retribution. As such, abolitionists would do well to focus on these demographics more earnestly than in the past. The notion of “culture work” underscores these groups as natural allies in the quest to end the death penalty.

Suggested Citation

SpearIt, Reimagining the Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives (July 15, 2020). Buffalo Law Review Vol. 68 (2020), U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-26, Available at SSRN:

SpearIt (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

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Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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