Voices from Russia

Friday, 2 May 2014

Are the Konvertsy Right on the Death Penalty?

00 Ilya Repin. St Nicholas Prevents the Falsely-Accused from Being Executed. 1889

St Nicholas Preventing the Falsely Accused from Being Executed

Ilya Repin

1889

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We have loud voices amongst the konvertsy who wish to ally the Church with the most retrograde elements in the Republican Party. In essence, their argument is that the Republican Party and the Church are in accord. Izzat so? Well, what DOES the Church say? Here’s an authoritative text for Russian Orthodox Christians:

Often, the Church assumed the duty of interceding before the secular authority for those condemned to death, asking for mercy and leniency. Moreover, Christian moral influence fostered a negative attitude toward the death penalty. Thus, in Russia since the mid-18th century to the Revolution of 1905, it was a very rare thing. For the Orthodox consciousness, human life doesn’t end with bodily death… which is why the Church continues her care for those condemned to capital punishment. Abolition of the death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with sinners and for them to come to repentance. It’s also clear that the death penalty can’t be reformatory, misjudgements are irreparable, and it provokes mixed feelings among people. Today, many states abolished the death penalty in law or in practise. Remembering that mercy to fallen man is always preferable to revenge, the Church welcomes these steps by state authorities.

Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church

(translated from the Russian text)

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The preamble to this document makes it clear that it’s a guideline… like the canons, it isn’t “law”… it’s a “standard”, a “norm”. However, it’s clear from the above that the Church views the death penalty with great scepticism. Hmm… that’s only one voice, though… here’s another:

Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount said, “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement (see: Exodus 20.13). But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement” (Gospel according to St Matthew 5.21-22). Thus, according to the authoritative interpretation of Scripture, according to Christ, not only does it prohibit the killing of another person, but even the anger of one person against another. As for murder… that goes even more so. It’s worth noting that according to the law given by God through Moses, the penalty for premeditated murder was death. “The murderer shall be put to death” (Numbers 35.16-18).

Then, came the Messiah, the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ… and the Apostle said, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (Second Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 5.17). Thus, because of Christ’s commandments given to us in the Sermon on the Mount, we must deny any kind of murder. From this, it follows that the commandments of the Lord, according to the teachings of Christ, that we shouldn’t kill in war or execute criminals (as it was in the Old Testament). This is the New Law. We should realise that everything else, no matter how we explain the particular circumstances or how they’re motivated… everything else deviates from the law… that is, it’s sin.

Metropolitan Filaret Vakhromeyev of Minsk and Slutsk

Exarch of all Belarus

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Here’s what Vladimir Putin believes:

In applying the death penalty to its citizens, even criminals, the state educates its citizens in cruelty; in an endless cycle, it generates brutality, on the part of citizens against each other and against the state itself. That is, it’s harmful and counterproductive. In order to fight crime effectively, we need a balanced and effective economic policy, an efficacious social policy, a competent and modern civilised penal system and law enforcement agencies. That’s hard to do, harder than the death penalty is.

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Rick Perry demonises V V Putin… fancy that. Yet, one can see that V V Putin is a real Christian whereas Mr Perry is a posturing blood-drenched phony (he’s only a “Born-Again”, after all, not an actual Christian). Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, one of the strongest tsars, routinely commuted all death sentences to 10-15 years at hard labour, save for crimes against the state. Tsar Aleksandr… he was faithful to his wife, was a loving father, hid a bottle of brandy in his boot, and routinely commuted all death sentences… what’s not to like? I’d say that he was a REAL Christian, unlike Mr Perry, Franklin Graham, Willy Romney, Rick Santorum, and others of their ilk.

The late Patriarch Aleksei Ridiger and Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev both opposed the death penalty. Are you seeing a pattern here? I am… the Church and leading Russian figures are sceptical of the death penalty… but the Republican Party isn’t… it advocates the noose and the prison cell as nostrums, which has made America “the prison-house of all the nations”.  In short, for Russian Orthodox Christians, the konvertsy drive to ally us with the Republican Party is evil beyond redemption as it goes against what the Church believes, what it states, what it teaches, and what it lays out as an ideal. It also goes against the political practise of conscious Russian Orthodox rulers such as V V Putin and Tsar Aleksandr Aleksandrovich.

You can follow V V Putin or you can follow Rick Perry… that’s the choice on offer. Choose well… oh, yes… do be aware that the Monomoron crowd has chosen Rick Perry… I just thought that might interest you…

BMD

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