Here is a note from Jon Crane of Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, doing God’s work by fighting for religious liberty against bloodthirsty right wing radicals at war with it and alerting us to this protest against the State of Texas:
Interfaith Statement in Response to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Decision to
Remove Chaplains from the Execution Chamber
We, the undersigned faith leaders, reflecting the rich diversity of faith traditions observed in this great state, stand together in expressing our dismay at the decision by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) earlier this year to remove chaplains from the execution chamber. Our concerns are moral, ethical, and rooted in our nation’s constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion, even for those condemned to death and the faith leaders who advise them. We write to you today to ask you to reconsider this new provision of TDCJ’s Execution Procedure and allow chaplains of all faiths to be present in the execution chamber at the request of the condemned inmate.
While the signatories to this letter may have differing opinions on the death penalty itself, we are united in recognizing that the right of condemned people to spiritual comfort at the moment of death is a longstanding and widely-recognized religious practice. Each faith tradition marks this sacred moment in different ways, including anointing, singing, praying and chanting, and laying on of hands. These rituals, stemming from sincerely-held religious beliefs, often require the direct assistance of clergy.
The significance of the physical presence of a chaplain at a condemned person’s last moment is difficult to overstate. In the State of Texas, death row prisoners are denied contact visitation, touched only by TDCJ personnel, and spend 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. The physical companionship of a chaplain in the execution chamber is a small but vital form of human compassion in an otherwise dehumanizing process. The presence of a chaplain or spiritual advisor in the viewing room is no substitute for this direct ministry.
TDCJ’s decision also infringes on the religious liberty rights of chaplains and spiritual advisors themselves. Clergy have the right to minister to those who have placed themselves in their care, up to and including the moment of death. The state cannot, and should not attempt to, regulate spiritual solace. Placing a wall between a prisoner and clergy violates the religious liberty that has characterized our nation since its founding.
We thank you for your service to the State of Texas and respectfully request that you reconsider this policy and accommodate the rights of condemned prisoners and chaplains of all faith backgrounds.
In addition, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty also speaks out against the Trump Administration’s vindictive decision to reinstitute the death penalty at the federal level:
Statement by Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty:
“Resumption of executions by the federal government goes against the trend we have seen in states across the nation, where executions and sentences are at historic lows. A growing number of conservative state lawmakers are driving that trend because they realize that capital punishment goes against their principles of valuing life, fiscal responsibility and limited government, and that the death penalty does nothing to make the public safer.”
In addition, here is Ilhan Omar:
The death penalty is a heinous, totalitarian practice often used against innocent people.
It is the very definition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
It has no place in 21st century America, or anywhere else in the world. https://t.co/wg8F0XiwnH
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 25, 2019
Lila Rose, to her great credit, likewise stand up for the Church’s consistent ethic of life to defend human life from conception to natural death:
The Magisterium has spoken to this issue definitively:
2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
Opponents of the death penalty have Pope Francis on our side, as well as every bishop in the world. Who do Good White Christianist Death Penalty zealots have on their side? Communist despots, Trumpian crooks, ISIS, and the House of Saud.