god created humanity. the murder of a human is a loss to god as much as to family and friends. each individual is considered one of god’s children.
god is quite experienced in dealing with murderers. the documents that he confronted first first murderer and was forced to deal with the circumstances and implications. it was the murder of abel by his brother cain.
god was impacted by this the loss of a human life. as noted in genesis 4:10, “[a]nd he said, “what have you done? hark! your brother’s blood cries out to me from the earth.”
god realized the humanity’s problems and implemented means to prevent it within the torah. he did so in part by including the prohibition against murder within the ten commandments. these ten commandments are foundational document with respect to the united states criminal laws.
at various criminal proceedings, victims of crime and their families are allowed to present victim impact statements. “a victim impact statement is a written or oral statement presented to the court at the sentencing of the defendant. many times victims, their family members, and friends of the victim participate in both written and verbal statements. … victim impact statements were created as an opportunity for the judge to hear how a criminal action has affected you and those that you love. victim impact statements are not limited to the courts. many times, probation or paroling agencies allow for an opportunity to present a statement as well.” victimsupportservices.org
there may be circumstances in which there may not be a family member or friend to present a statement. in those circumstances, should god be allowed to make a statement on behalf of the victim? . further, if the victim of a murder had a relationship with a clergy member, a priest, rabbi, minister, imam, etc, should a clergy member be afforded to make a statement on behalf of the victim?
while judges are restrained from practicing religion in the courtroom due to the first amendment, this should not bar a statement from a religious figure on behalf of the victim. frequently, when individuals die and have funerals or memorial services, a religious figure will speak and give reflection on the individuals life and their impact in the world.
there is a strong argument to be made that, in the event of a murder, the sentencing of the criminal is a continuation of the funeral or memorial service. the execution of justice on behalf of a murder victim is a statement with religious meaning. the sentencing allows families and a community closure. families and communities want justice served.
there are two meaningful passages in the torah. first, individuals are to be fruitful and multiply. genesis 1:28. second, there is the passage, “justice, justice shall you pursue.” deuteronomy 16:20. thus, to god a life shortened takes away that individuals opportunity to be fruitful and multiply. further, in order for a society to function, justice is to be pursued. god does not just say justice. justice is mentioned twice. the term used twice should be a reflection of the import that justice should be done properly and not made a mockery.
thus, the allowance of god, or a representative, to provide a witness statement is of import. it is of import to remind the judge of both the value of a human life and the divine nature of justice as a force in the universe. further, this witness statement, if heard by the convicted criminal, may provide them insight that may provide them guidance in the future as far as their actions and beliefs.
if you would like to read more blog posts, click here