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We welcome you to a new feature here at the American Atheist Magazine web site -- our on line forum. Here, we will periodically ask your opinion of some of the many questions confronting nonbelievers. We begin with a controversial topic -- the death penalty -- and, in particular, the case of Karla Faye Tucker. Tucker, a 38-year old born again Christian on Texas death row, has been sentenced to death by lethal injection early next month. Her case has attracted the support of some unlikely individuals and groups, including Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network. Fundamentalists like Robertson, who are usually vocal supporters of the death penalty, are asking Texas Governor George W. Bush and the State Board of Pardons, to "show mercy" and commute Tucker's death sentence.

It is a complex case, and one which is attracting considerable national attention. Atheists are not of one mind on many issues, and the death penalty is no exception; but there may be important state-church separation considerations here. Are Robertson's efforts in the Tucker case hypocritical, an example of selective indignation? Would "mercy" for Tucker be right or an example of gender bias, or "special rights" for religious believers? Why hasn't Robertson shown comparable concern for males on death row, including men who have converted to Christianity, or even some other religion like Islam?

If you are unfamiliar with the background in the Tucker case, start by checking out our introductory essay. We also include an essay giving one atheist's perspective on the death penalty. Written by Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, this is a personal perspective, and does not reflect the opinion of our organization. Indeed, American Atheists does not take a position on the death penalty, except where -- as in this case -- it may impinge on state-church separation issues.

You can also read two previously published Flash Line stories.

The online poll is now closed on this issue, but you can still view the results. You can also view selected comments from our readers.

So, enjoy your visit to our ON LINE FORUM. We look forward to hearing from you on this and future issues.

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