Should Dylann Roof Receive Death Penalty?

On June 17, 2015, a group of black parishioners were joined in their weekly Wednesday night Bible study at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A young man with a troubled look on his face walked into the church and was invited to join in the Bible study. Instead, the young man, Dylann Roof, pulled out a gun and began shooting the black parishioners. When the shooting was over, 9 members of the small church were dead and 1 other was wounded. Among the dead was Senior Pastor and State Senator Clementa C. Pinkney. The community has come to refer to the victims of the slaughter as the Charleston Nine.

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The survivors of the shooting quickly identified Roof and a massive manhunt was launched by law enforcement. Roof’s father and uncle also contacted the FBI to verify Roof’s identity. Roof was arrested the following morning over 200 miles away from the scene of his carnage. When Roof was arrested, law enforcement found a gun in his car.

Upon further investigation of Dylann Roof, law enforcement found an abundance of evidence pointing to Roof’s guilt. Included in the evidence was Roof’s manifesto which stated his racist reasons for his targeting the black parishioners. His manifesto, posted on the website The Last Rhodesian which apparently has been removed. The manifesto starts out:

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“I have no choice. I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.”

On Thursday, a jury found Roof guilty on all 33 counts that he had been charged with. During the trial, the court was shown a video, made by law enforcement, of Roof’s confession during which Roof was laughing at his murderous actions.

The same jury will return on January 3, 2017 to decide Roof’s fate. The prosecution is calling for Roof to be put to death for his hate crimes and murders. No doubt, this will cause bleeding heart liberal to call for a life sentence instead of death.

On one website, I found a listing of 46 anti-death penalty organizations here in the US, 11 of them are listed as faith-based groups. They generally argue that the death penalty is inhumane and cruel and many faith-based groups say it goes against their religious teachings including the Bible.

First, I have never found anything in the Bible to nullify the death penalty. In the laws handed down to Moses by God, there are a number of crimes, including murder and homosexuality, that are punishable by death. Religious groups often claim that Jesus did away with those laws, but in fact He said that He did not do away with the Law but came to fulfil it. In that context, Jesus fulfilled the Temple laws but not the judicial laws.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18

Since Jesus did not replace the Law, then what does God’s law say about murder?

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder” Deuteronomy 5:17

And what does God’s Word say about the penalty for committing murder?

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Genesis 9:6

Additional instances of God issuing the death penalty for crimes can be found in Numbers 35:16-21; Numbers 35:30-33; Deuteronomy 17:6 and Leviticus 20:10-16.

As for the argument that putting a convicted criminal to death is inhumane, I have one question for those who use this argument – Wasn’t the murder of the victims inhumane? Imagine the horror and terror someone experiences when they look into the barrel of a gun and eyes of someone who is intent on murdering them? What about the terror and pain someone experiences while they are being beaten to death? What about the terror and fear felt by a woman who is brutally raped or sexually assaulted and then murdered?

Which is more inhumane, putting a convicted criminal to death or keeping them alive for years and years in a locked cage? Prison isn’t a picnic. Men and women prisoners are physically and sexually assaulted in prison on a regular basis. Isn’t it more inhumane to subject them to years of this abuse and torture than to carry out God’s judgement and put them to death?

I was once called to jury duty for a murder case. I was juror #2 when marched into the courtroom. The defense attorney looked at me and asked how I felt about the death penalty. I told him I would provide the bullet if he provided the gun. He immediately told the judge I was excused. I still feel that way about the death penalty. It is what God decreed and I believe it’s more humane to put a convicted murderer to death than to subject them to years of abuse in prison.


Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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