The Shofar is the ancient trumpet which called the people of God to prayer, repentance, sacrifice and war.


29th July 2008 11.00 hrs

A Christian group is calling for the restoration of the death penalty for those convicted on what it describes as 'overwhelming evidence'.

The call comes as the Government has announced plans to reform the law on homicide. There was also criticism of the defence of being 'seriously wronged', which will exclude adultery.

Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today:

'In the Christian understanding, upon which our laws are or should be based, the death penalty was given to mankind for perpetuity under God's covenant with Noah. That covenant was sealed with the sign of the rainbow (Genesis 9:12-13).

'The Bible verse says: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (Genesis 9:6, AV) and it goes on to explain why: "for in the image of God made He man."

'When we lock someone up for between 10 or 13 years, which is the average for murder today, we are saying that such a term is all that an innocent human life is worth. That perception permeates through all society. Justice is not done by 'life imprisonment'.

'In fact we set the value of a human life even lower. In the sixties, with the abolition of the death penalty in 1965 and the Abortion Act 1967, our politicians took away the death penalty from the guilty, by the state, where it belongs, and imposed it upon the innocent, within the family, where it does not.

'The result is a society with no compassion for the victims of crime and their families or for the weaker members of society. We see this today in the callous nature of crimes committed by teenagers on each other and in the increasing brutality of Britain .

'The death penalty should not be available to judges for all convicted murderers, just for those convicted by overwhelming evidence: that is on the testimony of two or three eye-witnesses, or the equivalent in forensics.

'I would argue that lower-grade convictions, those secured on 'beyond reasonable doubt' evidence, should not be allowed at all. The imprisonment of innocent people like Angela Cannings, Trupti Patel and the late Sally Clark, who were wrongly convicted of killing their children on no evidence at all, just the opinion of Sir Roy Meadow, or the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, is a life-destroying punishment in itself.

'It has historically been held that it is preferable for a hundred guilty persons to walk free then for one innocent person to be convicted. If convictions on weaker rules of evidence were to be abolished, and we could be certain that murderers were properly convicted, the mandatory life sentence for murder could be abolished, as Geoffrey Robertson QC has argued, but only to be replaced by the death penalty, to which he is of course opposed.

'But until rules of evidence can be changed, a two-tier penalty based on the soundness of conviction would be a first step reflecting the demands of justice.

'The Governments' proposed 'seriously wronged' defence will not command public confidence, as most people would agree that the commission of adultery is a serious wrong; yet that is to be specifically excluded. However, it would be right to abolish the defence of diminished responsibility - no-one has the right to diminish another's responsibility. But we do not find 'medical conditions' reducing a man's culpability for murder in the scriptures either. It all just shows how wrong we can get it when man presumes to make laws which should be made by Almighty God.'