Three stats and a map

A jail cell is seen in 2010 at the federal penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, have asked U.S. senators to pass legislation that would reduce mandatory minimum jail terms for certain nonviolent drug offenses. (CNS photo/Jenevieve Robbins, Texas Dept of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters)

U.S. death penalty

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project released the results of a 2013 survey of American Christians about the death penalty. While support of the death penalty is crawling back toward its 1960s national low, the majority of American adults say they support the execution convicted murderers.

In the Pew survey, a national sample of 4,006 adults were asked their opinion on a variety of issues about life and death, including evolution and end-of-life medical treatments as well as the death penalty.

When asked if they supported the death penalty for those convicted of murder:

  • More than half of American adults (55 percent) said they supported the death penalty. The proportion was higher among white Catholics—59 percent of whom said they support capital punishment.
  • Thirty-seven percent of Hispanic Catholics said they supported the death penalty. However, regardless of religion, black and Hispanic Americans were less likely to support the death penalty than white Americans. Sixty-three percent of whites said they supported the death penalty, as compared to 40 percent of Hispanics and 36 percent of blacks.
  • Among major Christian groups in the U.S., only white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants—at 67 and 64 percent, respectively—were more likely than white Catholics to support the death penalty.

This map from the New Republic shows the evolution of the death penalty in the U.S.