Prominent evangelical leaders urge Arkansas to halt scheduled executions

More than two dozen national Evangelical leaders called on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to stop the upcoming “assembly line of executions.”

Their letter, released today, described Easter as “a sacred day when Christians celebrate Christ’s triumph over death,” noting the “unfortunate timing” of the executions.

Notable signers of the letter include many of EJUSA’s longstanding Evangelical partners and allies, such as pastors of mega-church congregations, theological scholars, religious authors, and more.

“To allow a drug’s expiration date to dictate when an individual will die shows a troubling disregard for the sacredness of human life,” the letter says.

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Engaging event at Florida’s largest evangelical congregation

This past Wednesday, EJUSA co-sponsored a discussion on the death penalty at Northland Church in Longwood, Florida. We were thrilled to be able to help bring this conversation to Northland – one of the largest Evangelical churches in the nation. Pastor Joel Hunter moderated, and EJUSA Organizer Christine Henderson made the trip from Jacksonville, FL, to share our vision of a criminal justice system that heals and restores lives. The panel consisted of two people who have come face to face with the death penalty in their personal lives and two people who discussed the theological implications of the death penalty.

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Event: Death penalty forum at Northland Church

EJUSA is proud to be sponsoring and organizing a exciting event at Northland Church, Florida’s largest evangelical congregation. Northland Pastor, Dr. Joel Hunter, will moderate a discussion about the death penalty with author and activist Shane Claiborne, Florida death row exoneree Herman Lindsay, and Darlene Farah, whose daughter, Shelby, was murdered.

Please join us for this important discussion! RSVP here. Continue Reading →

Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Are Evangelicals Ditching the Death Penalty?The Marshall Project
Another sign of how the U.S. is changing on the death penalty: Evangelical Christians are turning against it. Heather Beaudoin, our Director of Evangelical Outreach quoted in this article that looks at the demographic’s growing concerns over the ultimate punishment.

There’s trauma on both sides of the police-community relationshipThe Washington Post
“African American and Latino children manifesting symptoms of stress and trauma akin to those who have lived in war zones. And many who patrol those communities show the same signs of stress and trauma… [T]hey’re supposed to serve share the same space, necessarily interact and can be deeply, sometimes tragically affected by each other.”

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Recommended this week

“Recommended this week” features highlights from the past week in news about the death penalty, crime survivors, and trauma-informed responses to crime.

Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas Execution Demand New Sentencing Hearing for Jeff WoodThe Gospel Herald
Evangelical Leaders Call for Halt to Texas ExecutionEvangelicals for Social Action
Evangelicals urge halt to Texas executionBaptist News Global
Evangelical leaders: Texas has ‘moral obligation’ to stop execution of death row prisoner, Christian Today
Several stories about the almost 50 Evangelical pastors who called on Texas Governor Greg Abbot and the Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the death sentence of Jeffrey Wood. Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 23, even though he never killed anyone, had no previous criminal history, and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness. Although Wood was involved in a robbery, he didn’t plan to kill anyone and wasn’t even inside the gas station when the victim, Kris Keeran, was shot. He was sitting in a truck outside.

Even violent crime victims say our prisons are making crime worseThe Washington Post
According to a new  report from the Alliance for Safety & Justice,“A majority of crime victims prefer investments in treatment & prevention over prison spending.” The report, “Crime Survivors Speak,” includes the first national survey of crime victims’ views on safety and justice policy. It reveals their preference for prevention, health, and rehabilitation over more spending on prisons and jails. Continue Reading →

Evangelical leaders call upon Texas to stop scheduled execution

Austin protest to spare Jeff Wood of the death penaltyAlmost 50 Evangelical leaders from Texas and around the country called upon state officials to stop the execution of Jeff Wood. In a letter released Monday, the religious leaders urged Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons to grant Wood a new sentencing hearing, saying he “never should have been sentenced to death.”

Texas is scheduled to execute Wood on August 24th for his role in the murder of Kris Keeran. But Wood wasn’t even inside the gas station where Keeran was working as the clerk. He was sitting in a “get-away” truck outside. Wood had no previous criminal history and suffers from borderline intellectual functioning and mental illness.

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Recommended: Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penalty

Nebraska state Sen. Colby Coash pushed his fellow conservatives in the state legislature to repeal the death penalty there.

Nebraska state Sen. Colby Coash pushed his fellow conservatives in the state legislature to repeal the death penalty there. (Andrew Dickinson/(for The Washington Post))

In college, Senator Colby Coash celebrated at a tailgate party outside of a prison during an execution. Now he’s part of the growing conservative movement to end the death penalty in the United States – a movement that EJUSA’s Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty has helped spawn. Read The Washington Post’s in-depth article about this trend and EJUSA’s impact, featuring interviews with EJUSA staff members Heather Beaudoin and Marc Hyden, who lead Conservatives Concerned.

Read the full article in The Washington Post.

Evangelical activist Shane Claiborne shares his support for death penalty repeal in new book

Quote from Shane Claiborne

Is anyone beyond redemption? What does true justice look like? Does God support capital punishment? These are a few of the questions raised in a new book, Executing Grace, by Shane Claiborne. The book was released yesterday and is available at your local (or online) bookstore.

Claiborne is a prominent Christian speaker, activist, and best-selling author. He founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia and heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of people who are committed to living “as if Jesus meant the things he said.”

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Meet the red-state conservatives fighting to abolish the death penalty

Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty was featured in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post. The article’s author, Marin Cogan, interviewed CCATDP’s Heather Beaudoin and myself, and Cogan highlighted why conservatives are increasingly changing their views on the death penalty. She wrote,

Beaudoin reaches out to evangelical and other faith-based leaders and gets them talking about policy; her colleague Marc Hyden, the group’s national advocacy coordinator, works with movement conservatives, college Republicans, tea party activists and libertarians.

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NAE’s new statement reverberates around the country

National Association of Evangelicals

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) recently changed their 40-year pro-death penalty position, noting serious concerns with the death penalty and acknowledging growing opposition and differing views on the issue among Evangelicals. NAE’s board of directors voted for the resolution giving guidance to the NAE’s more than 45,000 congregations from nearly 40 different denominations, serving millions of Americans.

The media took notice.

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