The social statement on “The Death Penalty” expresses ELCA opposition to the use of the death penalty because of the church’s ministry with and to people affected by violent crime, even while recognizing that God entrusts the state with the power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to society.
The statement acknowledges the existence of different points of view within the church and society and the need for continued deliberation, but objects to the use of the death penalty because it is not used fairly and has failed to make society safer. Its practice undermines any possible alternate moral message since “the message conveyed by an execution, reflected in the attention it receives from the public, is one of brutality and violence.”
You can read or download the full social statement on “The Death Penalty” in English or en español. The statement was adopted in 1991 by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly.