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Latino Evangelicals' Trailblazing Vote Against Supporting Capital Punishment

First Posted: Mar 29, 2015 04:44 PM EDT
lethal injection

Photo : Wikimedia Commons

The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), in a unanimous vote, has come together to urge their 3,000 member congregations to help put an end to capital punishment across the country.

This decision comes just days after an Arizona court exonerated Debra Milke.

Milke, who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her son in 1990, had spent more than two decades on death row.

Gabriel Salguero, the president of NaLEC, spoke of his group's new stance, saying, “As Christ followers, we are called to work toward justice for all.”

He added, “As Latinos, we know too well that justice is not always even-handed.”

This recent vote makes NaLEC the first national association of evangelical churches to take a public stand against capital punishment.

As reported in Religion News Service, Salguero explained the decision came after a discernment process which begain in 2013 and included prayer as well as dialogue with anti-death penalty groups such as Equal Justice USA (EJUSA).

Speaking about NaLEC’s new commitment to helping end state-sponsored executions, Shari Silberstein, executive director of EJUSA, said that her organization has “found that evangelicals are eager to take another look at this issue, reflecting what we’re seeing in the country as a whole.”

In the United States support for the death penalty has hit its lowest level in 40 years.

According to a 2014 poll conducted by the Barna Group,  a mere 5 percent of Americans believe that Jesus would support the government’s power to execute the worst criminals.

And among religious groups, Latino evangelicals are not alone.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also noted their opposition to the the death penalty.

Silberstein noted, “NaLEC is the first major evangelical association to take this step,” adding that she does not think they will be the last.

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