On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, more than a dozen San Antonio-area faith leaders released a letter of support pleading for a stay of execution for Christopher Anthony Young and a new trial free from religious discrimination.
The statement, delivered by Rev. Dr. Paul Ziese, the Pastor of MacArthur Park Lutheran Church (ELCA), during a press conference at the Main Plaza, reads in part:
San Antonio is a city with deep religious roots as well as a history of interfaith cooperation. It is in that spirit that we come together to plead for a new trial for Christopher Young, who faces execution by the State of Texas on July 17, 2018.
We, the undersigned, do not necessarily share the same views on the death penalty. Some of us oppose capital punishment while others do not. What unites us, and the reason we are moved to issue this joint statement, is our belief that no individual should be discriminated against based on his or her religious affiliation. …
We believe that the process by which Christopher Young was sentenced to death was tainted by the decision of the government to strike a juror — not because of her personal beliefs or any stated inability to be impartial — but solely because she was affiliated with a ministry that works to improve the lives of the poor, the elderly, and the incarcerated. The government struck this juror even though she did not personally work with prisoners; she was removed, in short, because of her simple association with a church that pursued its mission of aiding the weak.
A total of 17 local faith leaders representing eight different religious traditions endorsed the statement, which calls on the State of Texas to uphold its commitment to religious liberty by disavowing the discrimination that occurred in this case: “Our state and local officials can prevent a serious miscarriage of justice by stopping this execution and giving Mr. Young a new trial untainted by discrimination against jurors of faith.”
In addition to Rev. Dr. Ziese, the signatories include Pastor Jesse Rincones, Executive Director of the Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas; Rev. Rick McClatchy, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas; Rabbi Emeritus Samuel M. Stahl of Temple Beth-el; and Deacon Robert Leibrecht, Director of Criminal Justice Mercy for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Faith leaders and community advocates joined members of Young’s family at the press conference. You can find coverage of the event at the following links: