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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201230 Find in a Library
Title: Christianity and Criminal Punishment
Journal: Punishment & Society  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:July 2003  Pages:261-277
Author(s): Jeffrie G. Murphy
Editor(s): Richard Sparks
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 17
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This article briefly examines the complexity of religion and the different religious perspectives on punishment, specifically Christianity and its foundation of love, faith, and forgiveness and punishment.
Abstract: Christians are committed to viewing all important issues, such as punishment, in terms of the best interpretations of their faith with many seeking to have some of their views enacted as a matter of public policy. Love is an essential value when seeking to develop a Christian framework for the understanding of criminal punishment. However, the value of love may initially seem not only different from but at odds with the value of justice. This article attempts to provide an understanding of the relationship between Christianity or Christian love, justice, and law, giving considerable attention to Christianity and the death penalty. The point is made that the relationship between Christianity and criminal punishment, even the death penalty, may be much more complex than it initially appears. Some of the present day penal practices are at odds with Christian forgiveness. On the issue of punishment many Christians may find themselves in great tension. Therefore, there cannot be anything that may reasonably be called the Christian view on punishment. However, there are certain considerations presented that must be regarded as central to any Christian approach to punishment and should be taken seriously by all Christians: (1) punishment must be consistent with the primary value of love; (2) punishment is best justified in terms of promotion of the common good and the spiritual reformation of the criminal; (3) one must not presume that in giving the criminal the punishment he deserves that one is giving him the suffering that is appropriately proportional to the inner wickedness of his character; (4) punishment will never be pursued with righteous enthusiasm but always with caution, regret, and humility; and (5) many Christians will be disinclined to defend an absolute prohibition against capital punishment. References
Main Term(s): Punishment
Index Term(s): Capital punishment; Criminology; Cruel and unusual punishment; Penology; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Religion
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