Religious Outreach

 What You Can Do in Your Faith Community

Religious Leaders: 

Please sign the Clergy Sign-on Letter – http://tcadp.org/interfaith-sign-on-letter/

Rabbis and Cantors - http://tcadp.org/texas-rabbis-statement-on-the-death-penalty/

Ordained clergy, retired clergy, deacons, nuns, rabbis, cantors, monks, imams, and leaders of “peace” or “humanist” churches (such as Mennonites or Quakers) all are eligible to sign, so long as they reside in Texas.

To date, we have collected 300+ signatures on the statement. Faith traditions currently represented on the letter are Baptist, Buddhist, Reform Jewish, Catholic, ELCA, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Disciples of Christ, Mennonite, United Methodist, Quaker, Evangelical, and Unitarian Universalist.  We want to reach 500 by 2015!

Clergy Meetings?  Do you participate in a regularly scheduled clergy meeting in your community?  Would you be interested in partnering with TCADP to host a clergy breakfast?  We need your help in spreading the word about the clergy sign-on letter.  Contact Vicki McCuistion at info@tcadp.org to learn more and discuss potential opportunities to increase clergy support of the Interfaith Sign-on letter.

In order to demonstrate the depth and breadth of faith-based opposition to the death penalty in Texas, TCADP seeks to release the Interfaith Statement to the media, to elected officials, and to the public at large during the next regular session of the Texas Legislature in 2015.  We plan to hold a press event at the State Capitol in Austin, in conjunction with a “Faith Leader Lobby Day on the Death Penalty.”  To learn more contact Vicki McCuistion, info@tcadp.org or 512-441-1808.

Raise Awareness

TCADP will work with you to organize one of the following activities (complete the sign up form below):

  • Publicize your faith tradition’s position/statements on the death penalty.
  • Collect signatures of support on the “Count Me In” form and request your faith leader sign the Interfaith Sign-on Letter.
  • Toll your bells on the days of executions in Texas in order to encourage reflection and prayer (see People of Faith Against the Death Penalty for more information about this program)
  • Hear testimony from a murder victim’s family member, exonerated death row inmate, or other speaker
  • Show a film on the death penalty and hold a follow-up discussion. Consider some of the films listed below, all available from TCADP.

Coming Events

March 2014

Beaumont TCADP meeting and discussion 6:30pm with Kristin Houlé, TCADP Executive Director. Get the details!

Resources

“At the Death House Door.” This film presents the journey of Reverend Carroll Pickett, the former Texas death house chaplain who accompanied 95 men – including Carlos DeLuna, likely an innocent man – to their executions. 2007. 1 hour, 37 minutes.

“70X7 the Forgiveness Equation.” This short film thrusts viewers into the turmoil between two sisters, Sue Norton and Maudie Hills, whose responses in the aftermath of their parents’ murder varied widely. The film also relives the horrific Oklahoma City terrorist attack in which Bud Welch’s young daughter was killed. His story reveals an unorthodox relationship with the father of the convicted killer, Timothy Mcveigh. These are the stories and their struggles speaking for themselves, these individuals shared how they coped with unforeseen bereavement, profound feelings of helplessness, rage and revenge, and, for some a move towards reconciliation and forgiveness. 2008. 36 minutes.

“The Empty Chair.” In this balanced and compelling portrayal, four families that have lost loved ones to murder confront their notions of revenge, forgiveness, and healing. This film works well with audiences that hold mixed views on the death penalty or groups that are addressing the issue for the first time. It includes commentary from Sister Helen Prejean. 2003. 52 minutes.

“Executing the Insane: The Case of Scott Panetti.” Scott Panetti was sentenced to death in Texas despite a long, documented history of paranoid schizophrenia. The film is a powerful portrait of the impact that Panetti’s mental illness – and his death sentence – has had on his family. 2007. 27 minutes. Available online.

“A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.” Based on the U.S. Bishops’ 2005 statement of the same name, this film explores the Church’s stand on the use, effectiveness, and necessity of the death penalty and offers guidance to parishes that wish to address the issue. 2006. 15 minutes. Available on loan from TCADP or from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for $9.95: www.ccedp.org.

Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty
Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) proclaims the Roman Catholic Church’s unconditional pro-life teaching and its application to capital punishment and restorative justice.  This work is carried out in many ways in the organization through the work of a focused coordinating committee, and the implementation work of a small but diverse staff, both in Washington, DC, and  Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. http://catholicsmobilizing.org

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty
People of Faith Against the Death Penalty is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, interfaith organization whose mission is to educate and mobilize faith communities to act to abolish the death penalty in the United States. Founded in 1994 in North Carolina, PFADP focuses its programs on organizing among faith communities.  Members include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and people from other faith traditions. PFADP works every day with faith communities across the South and the nation, helping to empower people to stand and be heard for repeal and helping groups across the country to develop their capacities for organizing for repeal of the death penalty. http://www.pfadp.org

TCADP can provide you with speakers, fact sheets, brochures, films, discussion guides, petitions, or whatever else you might need to make your event/activity a success!  Contact Vicki McCuistion at info@tcadp.org or 512-441-1808.

Please note when working in a faith community:

  1. Always be respectful
  2. Respect their process
  3. Feeling Safe is important
  4. Progress can be slow and incremental
  5. Be creative, if talking about the bigger issue of the death penalty is not working try something else.
  6. Compelling storytellers are always more convincing than an activist (a murder victim family member or a family member of an executed inmate) People seem to more easily change their minds when they meet someone touched by the process. Activists are important in setting the scene with statistical information and the facts.

If you have questions please contact Vicki McCuistion.

Complete the sign-up form to let us know of your upcoming event and to allow us to help you with materials, speakers, etc. Contact us today to discuss ways we can help you put YOUR faith into action.

Faithful Considerations: A Discussion with Sister Helen Prejean and Austin Faith Leaders (October, 2012 Austin)

Sister Helen Prejean, internationally know speaker and author of Dead Man Walking,  addressed a crowd of 300 at St. Edward’s University on Friday evening, October 12.   This Austin event featured a conversation between Sister Helen Prejean, Dr. John Elford, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church, and Pastor Nestor Menjivar, pastor of Principe de Paz Baptist Church.

Pastor Nestor Menjivar, Sister Helen Prejean, and Dr. John Elford

Read the Call to Action shared during the event.

See pictures.  See the Video!

Dr. Elford was asked to be a part of the conversation due to his leadership and experience in tackling difficult issues while senior pastor at University UMC, “One of the clearest signs that the church has not shed the trappings of empire is the widespread tolerance of capital punishment among American Christians. My fervent hope is that dialogue among Christians and practitioners of other religions will help us recover our voice as a people committed to peace and non-violence.” Pastor Menjivar has a long history of being involved in social justice issues and serving on the Board of the General Baptist Convention and Christian Life Commission, “I believe pastors and other religious leaders need to fully understand their God-given obligation and responsibility to teach God’s great mercy, which he calls us to show to others, especially those considered the least deserving.”

Both, Dr. Elford and Pastor Menjivar shared that clergy can have a tendency to avoid difficult issues as they shepherd their diverse congregations, but have also learned that people seem to hunger for that direction and real application of their faith to the world around them.

The discussion was sponsored by Catholic Mobilizing Network, Congregational Church of Austin, Diocese of Austin Office of Prolife Activities and Chaste Living, General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church, Methodist Federation of Social Action—Southwest Texas Chapter, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, St. Edward’s University, Liz and Duff Stewart, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Religious Leaders Dialogue Panel – San Antonio, October 2011 (video clips)

On October 24, 2011, a panel of San Antonio’s religious leaders participated in “A Religious Leaders Dialogue on the Death Penalty” at Laurie Auditorium of Trinity University.

See pictures.

Hope you will consider these short video clips from the Religious Leaders Dialogue Panel hosted in San Antonio, TX October 2011:

View All

Father Larry Christian, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

Rev Virgilio Vasquez-Garza, Southwest Texas and Rio Grande Conference UMC

Bishop Ray Tiemann Southwestern Texas Synod ELCA

Rabbi Samuel Stahl, Temple Beth-El

Elder Hilary Shuford, Mission Presbytery

Bishop Robert Hibbs, West Texas Episcopal Diocese

Rev Rashad Berry, Canaan Missionary Baptist Church

Moderator:
Karen Clifton of the Catholic Mobilizing Network

Question & Answer session moderators:
Brother Brian Halderman of St Mary’s University
Susan Ives of the PEACECenter

Closing Remarks: Bishop Oscar Cantu, Archdiocese of San Antonio

Location: Laurie Auditorium, Trinity University San Antonio

Sponsors:
Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty
Bishop James Dorff, Southwest Texas Annual Conference UMC
Jesuit Fathers of San Antonio
St Mary’s University
Marianist Social Justice Collaborative
Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Temple Beth-El- Rabbi Barry Block
Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Texas Impact

Religious Leaders Dialogue Panel – Houston, January 2011 (video clips)

Hope you will consider these short video clips from the Religious Leaders Dialogue Panel hosted in Houston, TX January 2011.

Sister Helen Prejean during the Religious Leaders Dialogue Panel – Houston

Rev. Harvey Clemons, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church

Rev. Mike Cole, New Covenant Presbytery, Presbyterian USA

Cardinal Daniel Dinardo, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Bishop Janice Huie, Texas Annual Conference United Methodist Church

Rabbi David Lyon, Congregation Beth Israel

Rev. Daniel Enrique Meléndez, Iglesia Hispana Nueva Vida

Bishop Michael Rinehart, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod

On January 18, 2011, a panel of Houston’s religious leaders participated in “The Dialogue of Religious Leaders on the Death Penalty” at the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall in downtown Houston. This unprecedented event preceded the Houston Grand Opera’s performances of the award-winning Dead Man Walking Opera January 22- February 7, 2011.

Read more about the panel discussion in the Houston Chronicle.

Location: Zilkha Hall (Hobby Center); Houston, Texas

Panelists:
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (Catholic)
Bishop Janice Huie (United Methodist)
Bishop Mike Rinehart (Lutheran Synod)
Rabbi David Lyon (Jewish)
Reverend Mike Cole (Presbyterian)
Reverend Harvey Clemons, Jr (Baptist)
Rev. Daniel Malendez (Pastors in Action)

Moderators:
Sr. Helen Prejean, csj (Author, Dead Man Walking)

Question & Answer session moderators:
Msgr. Frank Rossi
Fr. Gene Kelly

Sponsors:
Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Dominican Sisters of Houston
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
5th Ward Coalition of Churches
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
StandDown Texas Project

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