This resolution was approved by the Mennonite Church USA delegate assembly in 2001. It was one of three resolutions against forms of violence. The other two were against the U.S. government’s “Plan Colombia” counter-narcotics campaign because of its destructive effects and against military activity on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The resolution on the death penalty generated the most debate, as some delegates wished a strong parallel resolution on abortion. The resolutions committee refused to include language on abortion, citing earlier statements by the Mennonite Church in 1975 and the General Conference Mennonite Church in 1980. The resolution then passed with a few dissenting votes.
A Resolution: The Death Penalty
In view of our Christian responsibility to value all human life we are compelled to set forth our opposition to all capital punishment.
- The General Conference Mennonite Church called for “federal and state governments . . .to discontinue the use of the death penalty” at Estes Park, Colorado, July 16, 1965;
- The Mennonite Church called for “federal and state governments . . . to discontinue the use of the death penalty” at Kidron, Ohio, August 1965;
- The criminal justice system has sent innocent people to death row, and the death penalty is applied in a racially-discriminatory fashion, and disproportionately to some of society’s most vulnerable people; and
- We acknowledge the deep grief of families of murder victims and victims of capital punishment laws; hold them in our prayers; and commit ourselves to walk with them;
Therefore we resolve that Mennonite Church USA appeal to state and federal governments to abolish the death penalty.
We resolve further that the Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA address this issue with the President of the United States and urge area conferences to address relevant governors.
We further urge congregations to take action to support abolition of the death penalty through prayer, letter writing, and public vigils at murder sites and at prisons where executions occur.
Adopted by Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly July 7, 2001, meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Preheim, Rich. “Victims at home, abroad, unborn” The Mennonite 4 (17 July 2001): 8-9.