Most days, I never listen to a news broadcast. I haven't witnessed a lot of objective news reporting in recent years, and I sometimes get my news updates online, or I get them from my husband. I know that probably sounds lazy, but it's not meant to be. My husband and I think alike on most issues, and our opinions are more often than not, in sync with one another. I like that we can disagree on some of the issues without it turning into a major shouting match.
In some ways, it bothered me that I had said this. It didn't seem like a Christian pronouncement, knowing only a small amount about the defendant. What I did know was that these people welcomed him with kindness and love to their Bible-study session; the minister had the young man sit next to him. He sat there with these people for an hour, and then cold-bloodedly shot and killed almost all of them. The church is supposed to be sanctuary.
So why not life in prison as opposed to the death penalty? Wouldn't that be a more Christian sentence for this young man, who is obviously mentally disturbed? We had a young man who went on a killing spree in our town in 1988. He was 24 years old at the time; he was white and he shot nine passersby with a .22-caliber rifle (four died, including a 16 year-old high school girl). He stood at the side of the road next to a stop sign, and when people stopped their car, he walked up and shot them point-blank in the face. These were not racially motivated killings, because if memory serves me correctly all the victims were white. This young man had a history of drug abuse and some questionable behavior. At his trial, he was found "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity." Instead of going to prison for life, he was sent to a state mental institution. In 2010, the killer was released with conditions (I guess this is the same thing as probation), and in 2012, he was considered to be completely free with no conditions. The psychiatrists treating him had pronounced him cured. Hmmm.
I told my husband that this precedent was the reason I believed that Dylann Roof should receive the death penalty. Then I read, and listened to the statements of forgiveness made by the family members of the Charleston shooting victims. This, more than anything else, convinced me that these people who died in their church that evening lived and led by example. How else to explain the amazing attitudes of their family members? Could I be that forgiving of someone who had caused me such horrific pain? I hope and pray I never have to find out.