Is it Christian To Sentence Terrorists (& Plotters) To Life Imprisonment?

Comment:

There has been widespread news coverage of the comments by the father of one of those murdered in the recent terrorist attack in London, expressing his fury with Boris Johnson at “politicising” his son’s death, following Mr Johnson’s remarks about tightening up sentencing for the perpetrators of these crimes.  Indeed, David Merritt made the front page of The Guardian newspaper to express his anger. 

Of course, everyone is falling over themselves to sympathise with Jack’s father but, frankly, my immediate reaction to his comments was not remotely sympathetic.   Who’s to say whether his son Jack’s opinions about how to deal with these criminals might have changed had he not been killed but lived, perhaps to suffer a life of being permanently disabled?  

There are a number of issues which arise here, though, not just whether an individual relative of a victim of a terrorist attack (or any other criminal offence) should try to use that position in the way that Mr Merritt has done… 

What about the “rehabilitation Vs retribution Vs a combination of these” argument…  Which is more Christian, bearing in mind that being “Christian” doesn’t mean being nice all the time or doing the apparently, at first glance, kind thing, but is about saving souls. 

So, IS it Christian to lock up terrorists, including plotters, for life – to mean life (not out half-way through the sentence) ?

25 responses

  1. I really do not know whether to say yes or no to this question. To say they deserve “life means life “ terms seems to rule out any belief that these people can be rehabilitated at all, but to say it is better to let them out seems to fly in the face of reason at the moment. I am not sure that jihadists can be turned away from their beliefs by well meaning restorative justice programmes in prison run by empathetic prison staff and volunteers. Plus the fact that I suspect the imams who go in to hold Friday prayers etc might on occasion be sympathetic to extremist views, unless the attending prison officers speak Arabic who would know what is said to them?
    At the same time, high security prisons who hold these terrorists would find them impossible to manage if they had no hope of release. Violence would increase exponentially.
    In the end the safety of the public must be the driving force behind sentencing so that does point to the whole term life sentence without parole. But I remain a little bit uneasy about that.

    • Elizabeth,

      I can see the dilemma and I want to agree with everything you say. I think it’s got to be a mixture of trying to rehabilitate offenders and then if that fails, for such serious attacks, they ought to be sentenced to life imprisonment. It’s interesting, because although I voted in the poll for life imprisonment, I see just now that 25% of the voters put “on second conviction.” I think I’d vote that way now that I’ve thought it over again.

      However, my first feeling on hearing on the news that the victim, Jack Merritt’s, father was criticising Boris Johnson for politicising the attack, was that he was overstepping the mark himself. It wasn’t his son’s death that Boris Johnson was really talking about, because the job of any leader is to protect the whole country, and he can hardly go round asking each one of us for our views on sentencing just in case we are caught up in an attack ! In fact, when I saw that David Merritt had a front page article in the left-wing Guardian newspaper complaining about Boris Johnson, so soon after his son’s death, I thought right away that he was the one who was politicising his son’s death. You’d think he would have been too grief-stricken to even really take notice of what the news people and politicians were saying. I’m sure I would be, to be honest, and to be honest, if I was, God forbid, such a victim, I wouldn’t want my parents spending their time criticising politicians who were actually expressing views about how to best protect the public from future attacks, even if they disagreed.

      The one thing that worries me about life meaning life is exactly what you say, that if there is no hope, that could lead to all sorts of trouble within the prisons. It’s also extremely expensive, but then what price safety?

  2. I say hang them. End of. It is in the Bible to put to death those who take innocent human life along with Catholic Social Teaching.

    • Catholic Convert 1,

      I actually don’t completely disagree with capital punishment because it was always understood that this was the end, and a convict would be able to focus on what happens after death. Many would make their peace with God and offer their execution as a means of reparation for their crimes. As long as it’s not done in a spirit of revenge, but as a means of deterring further murders and encouraging the guilty person to make up for his crimes/sins by accepting the punishment.

      It goes against the spirit of the age, however, so I can’t see it being introduced any time soon and if it is re-introduced, I hope they don’t copy the American system where prisoners sit on death row for decades, trying appeal after appeal in court. After one appeal, that should be it, IMHO.

  3. It is very refreshing to see a challenge on here to the father of Jack Merritt. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard he was complaining about Boris Johnson saying they would ask questions about the attacker’s early release and tighten up the sentencing rules. That is the very least I would expect, and I imagine the majority of the public as well. Everybody is tip-toeing around this man because of the loss of his son and of course I am sympathetic over that, but I don’t think it’s his business to decide that the current failed system of early release of all prisoners, including these terrorist maniacs, should continue. I expect to see and end to early release, at the very least, and I won’t be happy at all if this man is allowed to influence decisions.

  4. IM-not-so-HO, I agree with CatholicConvert1: terrorists who have committed an act of terrorism should be executed, assuming that they have not killed themselves or been killed during their attack. However, I think they should be given the opportunity to convert to the One True Faith before execution.

    On the other hand, if they have been caught before committing their murderous act, then they should be deported, not imprisoned. Why should the state (in other words, the citizens) pay for years to house and feed a cold-blooded zealot who has no intention of amending his ways? And who will probably have his hate-filled zealotry even further inflamed while he is in prison?

    • RCA Victor,

      Totally agree on deportation of plotters – even those found guilty of terrorist murders.

      If they’re so devoted to Islam, they really should be living in an Islamic country. I just cannot get my head round why anyone would move to a country they hate and hate the way of life so much they want to kill people, so I’d be sending them to countries where they approve of the way of life. I know I couldn’t live somewhere that I hated, so I really don’t understand what they are about.

      • RCAVictor and Nicky,

        You are both absolutely right. I have always said if you want to live according Islamic standards and beliefs and follow your religion to the letter and force it on others, then go back to your own country. I think Saudi Arabia has a nice sunny climate.

      • Nicky,

        I think the answer to that lies in the nature of Islam itself: they are pledged to world conquest, esp. of nations that were once Christian.

        That may also be the key as to why they are being used by the Communists (who now call themselves globalists – same animal): they have the same goal. But when the Communists are done using them, they will be next in line for persecution.

        • RCA Victor,

          I’m sure I read somewhere that Donald Trump quoted the Islamists as saying they wanted to conquer the Vatican. Have you heard that?

    • RCA Victor
      I agree
      UK jails are full of Islamists, busy radicalising others inside, and we are paying a small fortune to keep them. Not to mention the money spent on monitoring those who have been released.

      • The problem is that sadly many if these so called jihadists are actually British citizens? So much as we might like to wave them off to an Islamic country it isn’t quite that simple. We can only deport foreign nationals.

  5. I can’t help thinking that there are many who will actually be very glad that the police shot this jihadist dead in the act of his attacks. That outcome solved any problem about what to do with such a man. I can quite well see the police being quietly told to make sure that they bring about such a result in any future similar situation.

    • John Rayner,

      I take a different view about the police shooting these attackers dead on the spot. It tends to make me suspicious. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but when they do that, it makes me wonder if something is going on under the radar. If they really want to find out the activities of the jihadists, why not take them into custody and question them thoroughly? In this case, I think there were plenty of people helping to restrain Khan so why then shoot him dead? If they shot just to immobilise him, that would be fine but I am a bit suspicious of any shoot to kill policy. That takes us on a slippery slope which I think is very dangerous.

      • Michaela,

        That’s a good question. I suspect they don’t bring jihadists in for questioning because they would immediately be accused of “racial profiling,” which, in the PC environment of the UK, is a sin much worse than using plastic straws….

        Over here, the Muslims have a PR/advocacy group called CAIR – Council on American-Islamic Relations. They would be the first ones to raise orchestrated hell about racial profiling Is there an equivalent group in the UK?

        CAIR has already been labeled by the FBI as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a Muslim Brotherhood case, but they really should be labeled a domestic terrorist group.

  6. Can you imagine if Boris Johnson had reacted to this latest terror attack by saying nothing more than he thought it was very sad for the victims and families, but “no comment” on anything else to do with the issue? There would have been an outcry and rightly so. All he did (and I’m no fan of Boris) was to try to reassure the public that he realises there is strong feeling about the early release of prisoners and he was going to end it for the worst crimes, like terrorism. What’s the problem?

    How was he to know that the two young victims had very liberal views about crime and punishment and wouldn’t want that, according to one parent, but even so, what about the rest of us? My views are definitely not liberal – I understand that it’s wrong to take the “lock them up and throw away the key” attitude but I’m afraid that’s where I often veer.

    I think I’m more in the camp of second chance and then life imprisonment without early release.

  7. Well, folks, so far, I kinda agree with everyone! All good points.

    No, it’s not flattery… I know how to keep things ticking over smoothly here, how to keep the acrimony to a minimum… Not boasting or anything but…

  8. Hang them. Hang all of them. And their Jihadi brides too.

    They are complete barbaric savages. The western world needs to grow a spine.

      • Editor,

        Since Our Lord said to love even our enemies, I can’t see him agreeing with Greg Grimer, LOL!

    • Greg Grimer,

      St Paul wrote to the Ephesians (4:31-32): “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

      He was passing on Christ’s teaching, so although I definitely think the State has to tighten up the law on dealing with these terrorists, I hope we don’t lose sight of the fact that the terrorists have souls to save, and no Christian should want anyone to end up in Hell.

    • Absolutely right Helen, and Greg Grimer. My sentiments exactly. As for those who say they can’t be deported as they were ‘born here’, I disagree. They are not British regardless of where they are born. I have never met an individual of Pakistani or Asian descent who identified as British. They always refer to Pakistan as their home country and never support English sports teams (think of the Norman Tebbit cricket test). Likewise, Enoch Powell said they will never be British. He used the analogy of a child born in Peking to English missionary parents. Would that child be Chinese? NO. These people are not British.

  9. I agree with the posters calling for terrorists to be hanged.

    Why imprison them for life? They will only cost the taxpayer and consume resources. Plus there is a small chance of them escaping, or being released at the behest of some soppy oaf (Pope Francis, for example).

    Help them along to the ‘paradise’ they believe waits. Is it not Christian to help others? Although I daresay they are in for a shock, I hope they like it uncomfortably hot in ‘paradise’.

    Plus, I believe certain extremists believe they are shamed and do not go to ‘paradise’ if they meet their death at the hands of a woman. I have long thought, in these modern days of equality, that we really could be doing with a hangwoman given this job has been so dominated by men historically.

    I understand reservations over the death penalty, in case of errors with a court case, but in many of these terrorist actions there is no doubt whatsoever as to guilt (not least given the killers often video themselves boasting of their intentions).

    I am mildly surprised that the latest attacker – who had already been subdued by members of the public and was lying prone on the ground – was still shot dead by Police and that there has been no reaction this. (I am glad there has not been a reaction, but it is surprising).

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