Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts (CC-By-2.0)
Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts (CC-By-2.0)

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has revised its previous support for capital punishment in favor of citing Evangelicals on both sides. A recent poll says 71 percent of white Evangelicals, who comprise the vast majority of NAE’s constituency, support capital punishment, the strongest margin in any major religious group.

“We affirm the conscientious commitment of both streams of Christian ethical thought,” the recent NAE resolution declared.

While the NAE affirmed both sides on the issue of capital punishment, it did not affirm multiple perspectives on other political topics it has addressed including opposing nuclear deterrence and favoring legalizing illegal immigrants.

The NAE counts over 40 denominations as members, including the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene and the Presbyterian Church in America. The Institute of Religion and Democracy in recent years has criticized NAE’s more liberal political stances on the environment and federal budget, asking whether most NAE constituents support those stances and whether they are backed by historic church teaching.

Clearly NAE’s drift and intent is towards critique of capital punishment.

Church bodies should address moral issues through the lens of historic Christian thought, reflecting with the whole church, past and present, and not striving to align with transitory secular trends. But there’s little theology in the NAE’s new resolution, which instead focuses on differences of opinion in their constituency, while implicitly inclining toward the supposedly ‘growing number’ on the liberal side.

Shouldn’t the NAE have seriously interacted with historic Christian teaching on an important ethical issue before jumping in a new direction? Or does the NAE prefer to join the habit of liberal mainline Protestants to jettison traditional teachings by votes among select elites in vain pursuit of wider social approval?”

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