The Death Penalty stands in the Lutheran tradition recognizing that God entrusts the state with the power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to the common good. Never-the-less, it expresses ELCA opposition to the use of the death penalty, one that grows out of ministry with and to people affected by violent crime.
The statement acknowledges the existence of different points of view within the church and society on this question and the need for continued deliberation, but it objects to the use of the death penalty because it is not used fairly and has failed to make society safer. The practice of using the death penalty in contemporary society undermines any possible alternate moral message since the primary message conveyed by an execution is one of brutality and violence. This social statement was adopted by the 1991 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Follow these links to find supplemental resources for understanding this social statement: