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Paul Hill executed; leaders say he has hurt the pro-life cause

STARKE, Fla. (BP)–Paul Hill, the man who shot and killed an abortion doctor in 1994, was executed by lethal injection Sept. 3.

Hill, 49, became the first person in America to be executed for anti-abortion violence. While he had some supporters, the overwhelming majority of pro-lifers criticized his actions, saying that violence is not the solution to fighting abortion.

In 1994 Hill gunned down abortion doctor John Bayard Britton and his escort. Hill never denied the action and even claimed in a recent interview that he expected a “great reward in heaven.” Minutes before his death, Hill remained committed to his “justifiable homicide” cause, the Associated Press reported.

“If you believe abortion is a lethal force, you should oppose the force and do what you have to do to stop it,” Hill said just before he died, according to AP. “May God help you to protect the unborn as you would want to be protected.”

But two Southern Baptist leaders say that Hill’s tactics hurt the pro-life cause.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religions Liberty Commission, compared Hill to John Brown, the 19th-century abolitionist who murdered several people who were pro-slavery.

Hill’s crime has harmed the pro-life cause “in the same way that John Brown damaged the abolitionist cause — by making some people think that [abolitionists] were a radical group that would not abide by the rule of law.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., also criticized Hill’s actions.

“Paul Hill’s monumental moral error came when he assumed the roles of judge, jury, and executioner in killing Dr. Britton and his escort,” Mohler wrote Sept. 4 in his Crosswalk.com weblog. “The Bible instructs Christians to ‘be subject to the governing authorities’ [Romans 13:1]. Christians are not to take the law into their own hands. The killing of unborn human infants is murder — but so was Paul Hill’s killing of John Britton and James Barrett.”

Mohler then asked, “If Paul Hill’s murder of an abortion doctor is justifiable homicide, what about the killing of a stem cell researcher who destroys a human embryo? The destruction of that embryo is also a form of murder, but it does not justify murder in response. Once Paul Hill’s argument is accepted, moral anarchy will inevitably result.”

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