STATEMENT ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas has had a long historical concern for human development. Our teaching on holiness upholds the sanctity of human life, the care of the individual and the advancing the moral quality of society as evidenced in our teaching on Scriptural Holiness. The Doctrinal Standards of our Church states:
… “It ever remembers that in the Providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread Scriptural Holiness through the land and to reform the nations by the proclamation of the Evangelical Faith and declares it unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission…” (Deed of Church Order 3)
The Church recognises that references are made to the Old Testament’s concept of the retribution principle as the Christian standard applying to capital punishment and urges the weighing of such principles against the teaching of Jesus Christ as evidenced in the Gospels (Matthew 5:21, Matthew 5:43). Biblical references used in support of the death- penalty must be studied and the principle understood in the light of its historical context and not simply transferred to our present-day situation.
The MCCA acknowledges the very serious personal, familial and societal ramifications of the capital offence. Research has shown that the use of capital punishment as a deterrent conveys that state sponsored violence is accepted and may result in the escalation of violence within communities. We are of the view that the use of capital punishment as a deterrent only adds to a feeling of escalating violence in communities.
Based on the foregoing, it is imperative that Methodists and the wider community ponder on the following issues arising from the imposition of the death penalty:
The belief that the murderer is not beyond redemption and can be changed by God’s grace.
The disregard for the sanctity of human life and its further devaluing when the state legislates death as an act of justice.
An act of execution makes it impossible to reverse a miscarriage of justice.
The lack of evidence from research to substantiate the claim of the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent.
The suggestion that the execution of a condemned person is the only care that society can extend to those who have lost loved ones through murder.
The preempting of the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation within the society in response to those who have committed murder.
Therefore the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas emphatically calls on all Governments, especially governments of the Caribbean that still actively pursue the death penalty to desist from carrying out executions and to move towards abolishment of the Act.
STATEMENT ON GAMBLING
Gambling is the intentional use of monetary or other resources for the purpose of gaining goods and services which accrue from the misfortune of others.
It opposes the biblical principle that one is to eat bread by honest labour. Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground”. (Also Genesis 2:15; Ecclesiastes 5: 10; Proverbs 15: 27a; 1Timothy 6: 9 – 10)
Moreover, gambling has significant adverse effects on the individual and society: exploits the weaknesses of persons, it compromises and contributes to the disruption and destruction of the gambler’s personal life, family relationships and/or vocational pursuits, and is a social ill which leads to addiction and criminal behaviour. Galatians 6: 2: “Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Also Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22: 36 – 39; Mark 12: 30-31; Luke 6: 31; Philippians 2: 3- 4)
The Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) recognizes that all we are and have belong to God. Psalm 24: 1 - 2: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Also Psalm 50: 10 – 12). As God’s servants and stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we must be responsible in the use of these resources. Financial resources must be used productively or invested (Matthew 25: 14 – 30). The MCCA upholds the principle that gambling is spiritually and ethically wrong.
While the MCCA is aware of Governments’ concerns to meet the social and economic needs of communities, we recognize the greater negative impact on our people’s moral, ethical, social and spiritual development. We are committed to the holistic development of individuals, families, communities and nations in keeping with the integrity of a people of the Christian faith. Matthew 6:33: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Also Philippians 4:19; Proverbs 3:5-6).