Maryland's had the death penalty since 1638; that is, until Thursday, when Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a law abolishing it. This is cause for great rejoicing and gratitude. Maryland becomes the 18th state to abolish the death penalty. Six states have done so in the last six years. That leaves 32 states.
On the Road to Peace
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that if our righteousness does not surpass that of the religious authorities, we will not enter the reign of God.
Last week marked a typical turn in our world of violence -- dozens killed in explosions in Iraq, U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, the ongoing U.S.-backed occupation of Palestine, the force-feeding of U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo, our president's daily perusal of his assassination list, millions of children starving to death around the world, ongoing U.S. preparations for nuclear war, the continued exploitation of the earth and its creatures, inner-city shootings, 14 dead from a fiery factory explosion in Texas -- and the Boston Marathon bombings.
On the Road to Peace: The injustice of Guantanamo must end immediately. President Obama needs to address the issues of its hunger strikers now before a prisoner dies.
On the Road to Peace: We are the beloved sons and daughters of the God of peace, so we go into the world of war and make peace.
On the Road to Peace: The Easter story announces that the risen Jesus comes back in the fullness of life not with anger, resentment or revenge, but bearing the gift of peace.
Author's note: My friend Shane Claiborne, one of the most popular progressive evangelicals in the world, asked me to write about civil disobedience for his website, redletterchristians.org, which I recommend as a great source of inspiration. I share this essay as we enter Holy Week to encourage everyone on journeys with the nonviolent Jesus.
Like many, I'm hopeful about the new Jesuit pope from Latin America who takes the name Francis, but I'm concerned about reports of his silence during Argentina's "Dirty War." I grieve, too, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the evil U.S. war on Iraq, to recall that few U.S. priests and bishops spoke out against our wasteful war. I think we need church leaders who speak out prophetically against war, poverty, nuclear weapons and the destruction of the environment and point us to God's reign of justice, disarmament and nonviolence. We all need to do that.
As we process through Lent toward Holy Week, it may be helpful to recall Jesus' testimony in court before Pontius Pilate, the representative of the Roman Empire. For me, these words sum up the Christian life of peace and nonviolence:
My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Judeans.
It's cold and snowy here in Oslo, Norway, but it's thrilling to be here. My friend Martin Sheen and I flew from Los Angeles to Oslo last week to speak at the conference of The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, where we appeared together Saturday night on stage before an energized crowd of 900 people in downtown Oslo. This civic forum on nuclear weapons preceded the global gathering of representatives from more than 130 nations invited here by the government of Norway to discuss the abolition of nuclear weapons. (The U.S.