The Church has described as unfortunate the inclusion of the death penalty in the just amended Constitution which upholds the imposition of the death penalty.
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) General Secretary Rev Suzanne Matale told the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs that the council was totally, holistically, biblically and theologically opposed to death penalty.
“Our conclusions on this matter are based purely on Biblical and Theological interpretation of the matter because we are a people of faith and we take our faith seriously”, Rev Matale said.
She explained to the committee that death penalty is not supported by any scripture, only if it is applied selectively. Human life is sacred and cannot be taken away by anybody including the state because that do including the state are guilty of murder.
Rev Matale pointed out that the church acknowledges that crime needs to be punished, however when a person is out to death, there is not punishment on the part of the person sentenced and the regrets remains with the person that executes the other.
She contended that punishment is reform and that one must be able to learn from their mistakes. With the death penalty there is nothing that one can learn and it does not deter would be offenders, if that was the case there would be no murders in the world.
“The scripture read in progression indicates a movement from vengeance to love and forgiveness (Matthew 5:38-45). Therefore, in the new dispensation there is more room to forgive, to uphold human dignity, reform and therefore death penalty would not find a place in the progression movement,” She said.
Rev Matale further stated that according to the biblical and theological perspectives on death penalty, life is precious and this is why one should not kill (Exodus 20:13). Therefore, there cannot be any distinction of murder whether it is the state that kills or an individual who kills. All that Bible says is that murder of any kind is prohibited because life is sacred.
“Theology upholds that life is sacred and all humans need to be treated with dignity as creation of God. Human dignity as a created dignity means that we receive our dignity from the creator.
Our dignity is alienable because it is given by the creator. It is alienable because it does not come from humans, but it comes from the creator.
It is inalienable because it is not dependent upon the recognition of dignity by the frail and unreliable hearts, minds and actions of humans, but it is dependent upon the living God,” she stated.