A distressing lack of courage

By Matthieu Ricard on November 10, 2011

Soon after hearing about Wilbert Rideau's testimony (see ‟Spared to Do Good”), I saw a CNN interview conducted by Piers Morgan of a popular and influential evangelist preacher in the USA.

In the interview he seemed to be an ever-smiling good person. He said that he hardly remembers ever getting angry, which is indeed a good point.  Piers Morgan then asked him about his views on the death penalty and state executions.  Visibly uncomfortable, the preacher attempted to evade the subject with vague statements such as :  ‟I don't know” and ‟I have not fully thought about it”. 

A bit surprised, the interviewer Morgan remarked that one would expect that a preacher who spends his time giving moral advice to hundreds of thousands of people would have an idea about such a crucial moral issue. But the preacher still dodged the question: ‟There are smarter people than me who made the laws,” he replied. The smile was getting twisted and the eyes belied it. The preacher tried something else: ‟I am inclined to give people a second chance, but they also have to face the consequences of our actions.”

We have seen what ‟giving a second chance” could do in the case of Wilbert Rideau. But let's not confuse the issue: it is about killing. Why kill to show that killing is wrong? For someone who preaches the Ten Commandments, condoning such a practice and then balking about condemning it is an appalling lack of courage and compassion.