Reimagining the Death Penalty: Targeting Christians, Conservatives
46 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2020 Last revised: 25 Aug 2021
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.
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