Chapter 22
Capital Punishment

Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die.

Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:35

Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder?

Book of Mormon, Alma 42:19

Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Bible, Genesis 9:6

      Capital Punishment—Official Church Position. We solemnly make the following declarations, vis: That this Church views the shedding of human blood with the utmost abhorrence. That we regard the killing of human beings, except in conformity with the civil law, as a capital crime which should be punished by the shedding the blood of the criminal, after a public trial before a legally constituted court of the land . . . The revelations of God to this Church make death the penalty for capital crime, and require that offenders against life and property shall be delivered up to and tried by the laws of the land. (The First Presidency, 1889, MS-52:33-4)

      We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished, according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment. (1835, D&C 134-8)

      Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. And again, I say, thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die. (Revelation to Prophet Joseph Smith, 1831, D&C 42:79, 18-19)

      Capital Punishment—The Law of the Lord.      It has [p. 508] been the law of the Lord from the beginning that

. . . flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Gen. 9:4-6)

      Moreover, Moses reiterated this commandment to Israel as the Lord commanded him, and it has never by divine decree been revoked The Nephites taught and practiced it. In this, the last dispensation, the Lord has confirmed this penalty upon those who deliberately kill.

      President Charles W. Penrose, speaking of capital punishment, has said:

This divine law for shedding the blood of a murderer has never been repealed. It is a law given by the Almighty and not abrogated in the Christian faith. It stands on record for all time—that a murderer shall have his blood shed. He that commits murder must be slain. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” I know there are some benevolent and philanthropic people in these times who think that capital punishment ought to be abolished. Yet I think the Lord knows better than they. The law he ordained will have the best results to mankind in general . . . .

      Is it the prerogative of the Church to inflict the punishment? No! The Lord has given commandment that all offenses worthy of death shall be handled by the courts of the land as declared in the Doctrine and Covenants, “And it shall come to pass, that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proved according to the laws of the land.”(1) (D&C 42:79) (Joseph Fielding Smith, 1957, Answers to Gospel Questions 1:189-191)

l       “The capital punishment question, in which law enforcement officers have a basic interest, has been confused recently by self-styled agitators ‘against the evil of capital punishment.’ . . .
      “Maudlin viewers of the death penalty call the most wanton slayer a ‘child of God’ who should not be executed regardless of how heinous his crime may be . . . . Was not this small, blonde 6-year-old girl a child of God? She was choked, beaten, and raped by a sex fiend . . . and . . . killed . . . .
      “The proponents of ‘rehabilitation’ for all murderers quote those portions of the Bible which they believe support their lavender-and-old-lace world where evil is neither recognized nor allowed. But the Bible clearly reveals that enforcement of moral justice is nothing new to our age . . . .
      “To ‘love thy neighbor’ is to protect him; capital punishment acts as at least one wall to afford ‘God’s children’ protection. (J. Edgar Hoover, F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin, June, 1961) [p. 509]

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