Currently, our great state maintains the use of the death penalty, but is this really consistent with our values as Americans, as Wyomingites? Such a notion would put our values consistent with some other well-known nation-states from around the world that also have the death penalty. States such as Iran, Saudia Arabia, China, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Singapore, Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Bangladesh.
There is a vicious thread which binds this grouping of tyrannical states together, a thread which runs scarlet with the blood of persecuted innocents, victims of severe human rights violations. These same states all utilize the death penalty and this thread woven into the core of these violent nations is a thread which should never penetrate the fabric of values in our state of Wyoming.
It is with great sorrow and lament that I received word of the Senate’s refusal to pass HB-0145, the repeal of the death penalty because it is of great import to many and the death penalty stands contrary to Christ’s redemptive message of mercy, forgiveness and salvation.
Recently, I read in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle of a Representative who was opposed to the death penalty repeal, and one reason cited for this Representative’s support of the death penalty is the fact that he is a pastor. I am compelled to share this message with you today as an Orthodox Christian Priest to declare that in no way is the death penalty supported in the fullness of sacred Scripture, in the Life of Christ, nor in His Holy Church, patristic writings and canons.
Turning to the pages of the Old Testament to find passages here and there that support such, is to neglect fully, rather to deny the salvific Gospel message of Christ. The irony of those who worship a God who was innocent, yet crucified upon a cross, who cried out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” the same Lord who stopped the stoning of the adulterous woman and courageously said, “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone,” how can supposed followers of such a God again cry out, “crucify him, crucify him?”
Oftentimes, I hear of new-age Christians who in one instance consider themselves adamantly pro-life, yet in other instances rabidly pro-death. All life is sacred, and although there certainly are religions in this world that promote death, no true follower of Christ can promote violence and death, for to do so stands in direct opposition to Christ’s Gospel message of self-sacrificial love. Our Lord powerfully states, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them … but love your enemies, do good to them.”
Christ tells us, “Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.” To these same proponents of the death penalty, I share Christ’s words, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
The death penalty does not support the values that we as Wyomingites hold dear. It is the thread of tyrannical regimes, which must never be woven into the fabric of our values. All life is sacred, as is said quite often, from the womb to the tomb, and beyond. It is for this reason that free citizens from across the state, from all walks of life, religious backgrounds and political affiliations have united and together declare that we unequivocally support the repeal of the death penalty in the state of Wyoming. Esteemed Representatives and Senators of this great state, we supporters of the repeal will return in force, year after year until truth prevails and the death penalty is repealed and left upon the trash heap of history!
Father Christopher Xanthos,
Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church of Cheyenne