By Vickie Speek
With McVeigh Execution Approaching, LDS Church Remains Neutral on Death Penalty
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- As the execution date for Oklahoma City
bomber Timothy McVeigh approaches, the Utah state parole
board must make a similar decision - whether to put inmate Elroy
Tillman to death or whether to allow him to live. According to some
religious leaders and church members, that's not necessarily a choice
the state should make. Other religious organizations, including the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, maintain a hands-off
attitude toward the death penalty, taking the position that the death
penalty is solely a matter of law.
While stopping short of barring the death penalty, the Catholic
church has decreed there is virtually no reason to put prisoners to
death. The United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of American also oppose the death
penalty. Jewish leaders have declared that "God alone is the author
According to spokesman Dale Bills, the LDS Church "regards the
question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose
capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed
process of civil law." "We neither promote nor oppose capital
punishment," he said.
While Mormons are typically considered conservative and Republican,
there are many who oppose capital punishment. This may be especially
true of members who live in foreign countries.
But Mormon history doesn't make the issue any clearer. That history
includes some rogues who either were or who would have
been candidates for the death penalty if taken to trial today.
Mormons have also been the victims of criminals who may have been
eligible for the death penalty. One of Timothy McVeigh's 168 victims
was an LDS Church member.
LDS Church remains neutral on death penalty
Ogden UT Standard-Examiner (AP) 5May01 T1
By Hannah Wolfson: Associated Press Writer
LDS Bombing Victim's Family Remembers, Awaits Execution