Faith Leaders: Tell Gov. Henry McMaster to stop pursuing the death penalty in South Carolina!

Gov. Henry McMaster

Are you the leader of a religious or spiritual community in South Carolina? In a state where over 80 percent of people identify with a faith tradition, including Governor McMaster, people of faith can be powerful voices for justice. We encourage you to add your name to this letter asking the governor to stop pursuing the death penalty in South Carolina. Please share the letter with others as well. We hope to have 200 signatures by October 10, 2024 (World Day Against the Death Penalty). We are pleased to collaborate with religious and spiritual leaders of multiple coalitions and traditions for the launch of this letter.

South Carolinians have been working for decades to abolish the death penalty in our state. However, in 2021, our work took on new urgency as the South Carolina legislature voted to create the firing squad as a new method of execution. Since then, the state has also passed a lethal injection secrecy law to try and obtain lethal injection drugs and restart executions. South Carolina Department of Corrections is now able to carry out executions after making more than 1300 contacts to obtain the necessary lethal injection drugs.

The governor alone has the power to grant clemency and commute death penalty sentences to prison terms. We believe the governor should stop pursuing the death penalty. This action by the governor would help ensure that no more cruel and inhumane executions will ever be carried out in South Carolina. There are only 7 other states that have executed more people than South Carolina. Our state has executed 282 people since 1912, and has the distinct shame of executing George Stinney, Jr., the youngest person to be executed in U.S. history. The average person has been on SC's death row for more than 20 years, and 60% of South Carolina's death penalty cases are resentenced to prison terms anyway.

This letter is the first letter so far of the SCADP Spiritual Leaders Campaign. We began this campaign on October 10th, 2023 with a press conference of spiritual leaders in South Carolina from different religious and spiritual traditions. Our campaign is led by a diverse working group representing organizations across South Carolina, along with people directly impacted by the death penalty, including death row survivors and people who have lost family members to murder.

To: Gov. Henry McMaster
From: [Your Name]

​Dear Governor McMaster,

We come to you as religious and spiritual leaders living in South Carolina who believe strongly that the death penalty is racist, immoral, and cruel. We are leaders in major religions who ask you to stop pursuing the death penalty for everyone on South Carolina's death row. State sponsored execution is an archaic and retributive practice that runs counter to our belief that every human being is sacred. Were South Carolina to return to using its execution chamber, the people of our state would be no safer, but we would be morally and spiritually stained. We humbly ask that you use your power to assure that executions will not be carried out in South Carolina. With such an action, you could lead South Carolina to a new vision of justice, mercy, and public safety.

Thank you for considering our important request.