Dylann Roof of the day of reckoning: The moral perspective on the death penalty


The jury in the process of Dylann Roof found him guilty on 33 federal charges in the murders of nine people at Emanuel A. M. E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.

This statement is not, however, solve the sentence. Roof represents himself in the penalty phase of his federal capital trial. It is yet to be determined whether he will receive the sentence of death for his crimes.


Some think that such a heinous act deserves nothing less. Others plead for mercy, including some of the relatives of his victims. But the case could be made that the sentence of death itself is a mercy — and of a kind that his victims never saw.

More Of

  • Becoming more in the Faith in 2017

  • Fake News strikes the Vatican

  • Charleston Church Attacker Ruled Competent for Sentencing

  • On This Day… Jan. 4, 1999

I recently saw a documentary about the death penalty by Werner Herzog called “Into the Abyss”, released in 2011. He traced the story of a young man who, when he was 19, murdered three people in cold blood and had the death penalty. Herzog was founded in the beginning of the film that he is against the death penalty. During the interview of a pastor, he interrupted, “Jesus would oppose the death penalty, wouldn’t he?”


I think Jesus would say that the death penalty with the death itself, is beside the point. He would say, I believe, what He has already said about death: “do not be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear in place of killing of the soul” (Matt. 10:28).

It seems Jesus is saying that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. It is the condition of the soul, one should fret over.

The Herzog documentary brilliantly captured the transformative power of an approaching death imposes, that in the crime in the extended community — the families of the victims, the murderer of the family, the officers who serve the last meal, the servants that the rendering of the lethal injection, the priest, who stands and prays with the criminal.

The weeks leading up to the execution-which soon became days, hours and then minutes — become a melting pot of the settlement.

Herzog’s film also shows how the focus and presence contributed to the implementation of the death penalty, strange ennobles of the last days and moments of the life of the crime and the offender. The confrontational nature of such anticipation changes people and moves souls, in one direction or another.

If there was ever a case made for the value of the death penalty, it would be to the advantage of the soul to be paid when the see the day of your death, listed on a calendar. During this short season of the dreaded of anticipation, that in this function the given the chance to determine the weight of mortality, and let it do its work on the soul.

For some people, the bill can impose clarity; for others, it may push them further into the abyss.

In this way, that the death penalty can be seen as a kind of mercy — a chance to come to terms with the value of a life, the meaning of a soul and the nearness of a God who sees and knows everything.

The young man in Herzog’s documentary died as planned. In his last moment of earthly life, he turned to the surviving member of the family he killed and told her that he forgave her for him to the death. So some souls are not saved.

It is yet to be seen what the verdict will be for Dylann Roof, if he will live or die — and as the season of waiting in order to bring clarity, or push him further into the abyss.

Wendy Murray served as the regional reporter for TIME magazine in Honduras in the early 1990s, and later as an editor and senior writer at Christianity Today. She is the author of 10 non-fiction books and a novel.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular