This section is from the book "A Book Written By The Spirits Of The So-Called Dead", by Carl Gustaf Helleberg. Also available from Amazon: A Book Written by the Spirits of the So-Called Dead.
Aug. 31, 1882. The following from the spirit of Thomas Paine, on capital punishment, was received:
" I am here to-day, sir, to say a few words in opposition to capital punishment. What is the argument in its favor? One citizen has taken the life of another citizen, and you say he has thereby forfeited his right to live. From whence do you get this doctrine? Does it belong to and is it a reflex of your boasted Christian civilization ? The Mosaic law demanded an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but is this the doctrine of Jesus, the assumed founder of Christianity ? If you think so, you certainly have not read him attentively, and it may be profitable to you in considering the subject to read the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the fifth chapter of Matthew, especially the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth verses.
" You coolly and with the utmost deliberation usher these imperfectly developed souls out of one life into another, thereby ridding yourselves of human monsters and fiends by sending them to be cares, pests, and annoyances to the people of another world. And this you call Chistian charity, benevolence, and fair dealing. But you say they can repent before they are shuffled oft' by the hangman, and thus be saved. If this be true, the best service you can render all villains and evil disposed persons is to hang them as the surest means of saving their souls in heaven, for if they are permitted to live and die natural deaths the chances are that they will never repent, and all consequently go to hell. But this is a subterfuge. It is the unholy spirit of revenge that actuate you, and you consider not the victim's good. Certainly heaven is not yearning for these cutthroats and outlaws, and hell, according to orthodoxy, is already crowded and overpopulated. One man, either through ungovernable passion or malice prepense, takes the life of another. Now, he generally has some real or imaginary grievance, but without even this excuse your courts take the other life, just as if one wrong justified another. Your plea that protection to society demands this course is untenable. Is it true that no adequate protection can be afforded except by judicial murder? Would not the confinement of the culprit subserve the same purpose, with the additional humane advantage of allowing the opportunity to reform and become better, and best of all, to let the voice of God, through natural law, call him from time to eternity.
" Christians can not rise up to the sublime altitude of adapting, in practical life, the ennobling teachings of the Nazareue including love and forgiveness, as long as they believe the God of their worship to be a vindictive and passionate being full of spleen and vengeance. To believe in such a God naturally inspires the effort to imitate his characteristics, and hence they become spiteful and vengeful, and in favor of taking human life on the scaffold, because a badly organized mortal in a fit of rage or in the pursuit of revenge for, perhaps, an imaginary wrong done him, slays his neighbor. The killing of one man by another is no worse than judicial murder, and both are relics of barbarism and a past heathen age, and you ought to have done with them. To-morrow, Margaret Fuller on prayer. Thomas Paine."