The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recently changed their 40-year pro-death penalty position, noting serious concerns with the death penalty and acknowledging growing opposition and differing views on the issue among Evangelicals. NAE’s board of directors voted for the resolution giving guidance to the NAE’s more than 45,000 congregations from nearly 40 different denominations, serving millions of Americans.
The media took notice.
Townhall noted the significant decline of support for the death penalty among Evangelicals. The Atlantic highlighted the resolution’s recognition of racial disparities as reason for the change in position.
Heather Beaudoin directs Evangelical outreach for EJUSA. She appeared in several of the stories, while others published her statement:
“Clearly we are seeing growing concerns among the NAE leadership about problems with the death penalty. These concerns mirror what I have been hearing when I talk to Christians across the country. More of them are questioning their support for the death penalty as they learn about its mistakes and bias. I am overjoyed that the NAE has taken so much leadership in fostering this dialog.”
In a piece titled “One small step for evangelicals, one giant leap for abolition of the death penalty,” Evangelical leader Shane Claiborne hailed NAE’s new position as a “big deal” because “evangelicals have provided an unwavering political base and a solid theological backbone for the death penalty in America — until now.”
Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference shared his own evolution on the issue with Evangelical Focus. “The disproportionate application of the death penalty to people of colour exacerbated by botched executions and my uncompromised commitment to ‘life’ from conception to natural death serve as the catalyst for my evolution on the matter.”
Heather has been meeting with Evangelical leaders across the country for the past several years. Last year she gave a presentation on the death penalty to the NAE Board of Directors. This exciting shift feels like just the beginning.