William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal
Punishment at all Costs: On Religion, Convicting the Innocent, and Supporting the Death Penalty
This Paper explores the impact of the belief structure among white fundamentalist denominations on the support for the death penalty. Professor Robert L. Young observes that the tenets of fundamentalism, as well as the great extent that fundamentalists conform to the positions of their clergy, support this link between fundamentalism and a punitive orientation toward wrongdoers. Professor Young explains that members in white fundamentalist churches, to a greater extent than others, are inclined toward a negative view of human nature, which in turn leads to the belief that letting the guilty go free is a more serious mistake than convicting the innocent. This relative tolerance for convicting the innocent has a direct impact on support for the death penalty.