After we have
stoned the adulterers,
beheaded the rebels,
burned the heretics,
drowned the witches,
hanged the horse thieves,
put the killers to the needle,
we take time to thank our god.
We thank you, god
for being a god in our own image,
a god who is Number One,
a kick butt kind of god
of power and might.
We thank you for being not
some pitiful god of pity, absolution and peace.
Who could forgive a forgiving god?
Some bleeding heart god,
creating out of love and loving creation?
Give us you: a destroyer god.
We hunger for a god like you,
a god who wants sacrifice, not mercy.
A god who accepts Abraham’s offered son,
a Moloch who understands that we understand,
who knows we know what we are doing,
when we sacrifice the innocent and the guilty.
Make us, O god, instruments of your retribution.
Demand of us killing for killing,
murder for murder.
Give us a god we can fear,
that fear may secure us,
bind us together.
We want a god who underwrites
the righteous good in ourselves,
expels the expendables.
We long to serve a god of vengeance,
who puts no mark of forbearance on Cain
and the murdering sons of Cain.
Death to Cain.
Long live vengeance.
Long live our god.
June 2, 1998
Introductory remarks before reading this again:
In doing workshops on the death penalty I find many of our brothers and sisters who support death penalty are conserving something they believe in.
Some supporters are preserving a belief in a god of punishment and revenge. They point to the Bible as a source for their belief and there is plenty there to support them.
This poem is in the voice of the many who hold this belief. The poem contains several Biblical references: The mark of Cain, where the first murderer says to God, “Because of what I did, anyone who finds me will kill me.” God gives Cain a mark to protect him. Imagine, God protecting the murderer. Moloch, the god of wealth who demanded child sacrifice in exchange for favors. Abraham’s offering to sacrifice his own son believing this is what God wants. But God does not want human sacrifice and the practice of child sacrifice by Abraham and his descendants is no more. Then there is the theme announced by the prophets: God wants mercy, not sacrifice. Finally, there is Jesus’ prayer to forgive his executioners because they did not know what they were doing.