The Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) approved a resolution at its semiannual meeting on October 15 acknowledging the diversity of evangelical views on capital punishment.

The new resolution states, “Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs about capital punishment, often citing strong biblical and theological reasons either for the just character of the death penalty in extreme cases or for the sacredness of all life, including the lives of those who perpetrate serious crimes and yet have the potential for repentance and reformation. We affirm the conscientious commitment of both streams of Christian ethical thought.”

NAE President Leith Anderson said, “A growing number of evangelicals call for government resources to be shifted away from the death penalty. Our statement allows for their advocacy and for the advocacy of those of goodwill who support capital punishment in limited circumstances as a valid exercise of the state and as a deterrent to crime.”

The Capital Punishment 2015 resolution expands prior NAE resolutions on capital punishment that focus exclusively on arguments for the death penalty to include acknowledgement of “a biblical and theological case against the death penalty or against its continued use in a society where biblical standards of justice are difficult to reach.”

The resolution notes the government’s role in administering justice to protect citizens and preserve the common good while recognizing that all human systems are fallible.

“Despite differing views on capital punishment, evangelicals are united in calling for reform to our criminal justice system. Such reform should improve public safety, provide restitution to victims, rehabilitate and restore offenders, and eliminate racial and socio-economic inequities in law enforcement, prosecution and sentencing of defendants,” the resolution states.