As a commission studies whether New Hampshire should keep or abolish the death penalty, Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Christian of Manchester said during a hearing on May 14 that Jesus’ model of “reconciliation and rejection of all forms of violence” holds the key to the discussion. He said Jesus, as “a consistent witness to nonviolence, unlimited forgiveness and absolute respect for all human beings,” is a powerful witness to the intrinsic value of every person. Bishop Christian said the state flirts with great moral peril by resorting to capital punishment in an era when society can appropriately punish truly dangerous criminals and protect itself by other means. Bishop Christian said that the state’s motto, “Live Free or Die,” should never become “Live Free or Kill.” The first motto “succinctly asserts that living with freedom to do what is morally good trumps the mere preservation of physical existence,” while the second means “that killing others is sometimes necessary to preserve our freedom and safety,” something the state should never accept.
New Hampshire Ponders Death Penalty