Faith Leaders Sign-On Letter Opposing Federal Executions

President Donald J. Trump

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In Collaboration with Clergy Emergency League, Red Letter Christians, Vote Common Good, L'Chaim: Jews Against the Death Penalty, and others...

As ministers to many of our greatest societal problems, we advocate for systemic solutions to violent crime that address our communities' needs for justice, equity, and love, not vengeance. In this moment, the first step we are taking is to raise awareness among citizens and members of our congregations about the new crass and harsh ways the death penalty is being implemented. Thus, we call for an immediate halt to the executions that have been scheduled by our federal government.

It has been 131 years since the last time there was a federal execution under a lame duck president. But already, there have been post-election executions on November 19, December 10 and December 11, 2020, and now three more are scheduled for January 12, 14 and 15, 2021. The final execution is set on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Details of these cases raise questions of innocence/culpability, issues around serious mental illness, intellectual capacity, fairness, racial bias, and other horrific issues that plague our modern death penalty.

Between July 14 and December 11, 2020, the federal government has overseen 10 executions. The alarming speed with which these executions have been scheduled and carried out should deeply trouble all Americans.
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To: President Donald J. Trump
From: [Your Name]

Love - not vengeance.

As faith leaders throughout the country, we stand united against the use of capital punishment by our federal government. We condemn the rush to kill people by the current administration, even in its last days, as an abhorrent example of how the death penalty can be implemented. There are three more executions scheduled after the new year and before the next president is sworn in, including the first woman in 70 years, Lisa Montgomery. We are particularly disturbed by the federal administration’s expansion of the potential methods of execution that include gassing, electrocution, and firing squad that go into effect on Christmas Eve.

The majority of religious communities nationwide oppose the death penalty as an affront to our basic religious principles that preserve the sanctity of life. We stand together as a religious bloc with the following national religious groups who have made statements in opposition to the death penalty:

* American Baptist Church in the U.S.A.
* The American Jewish Committee
* The Bruderhoff Communities
* Central Conference of American Rabbis
* Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
* Church of the Brethren
* Church Women United
* The Episcopal Church
* Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
* Fellowship of Reconciliation
* Friends United Meeting
* The General Association of American Baptists General Conference
* Mennonite Church
* The Moravian Church in America
* National Council of Churches of Christ
* Orthodox Church in America
* Presbyterian Church U.S.A
* Reformed Church in America
* Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
* Unitarian Universalist Association
* United Church of Christ
* The United Methodist Church
* U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

As people of faith, we support a justice system that is both humane and restorative. This includes standing with the victims of violent crime and their family members in their grief and suffering, seeking ways of comfort and material support for them, and working on their behalf to transform the culture of violence in our society. It also includes providing those who have been convicted of a crime the opportunity to seek repentance, demonstrate remorse, and dedicate their lives to the service of others and the Holy Judge.

As ministers to many of our greatest societal problems, we advocate for systemic solutions to violent crime that address our communities' needs for justice, equity, and love, not vengeance. In this moment, the first step we are taking is to raise awareness among citizens and members of our congregations about the new crass and harsh ways the death penalty is being implemented. Thus, we call for an immediate halt to the executions that have been scheduled by our federal government.

Let us not stand silently by as the death penalty is being harshly and indiscriminately carried out against the most broken of the broken.