Faith leaders and faith communities are integral partners in our efforts to reduce use of the death penalty and, ultimately, abolish capital punishment in Texas.
Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty
TCADP is partnering with Texas Impact, Texas’ oldest and largest statewide interfaith network, to help Texas faith leaders voice their beliefs and concerns about the death penalty. Nationally and in Texas, faith communities play a critical role in public discussions about the future of capital punishment.
TCADP invites all religious leaders who reside in Texas to sign the Interfaith Statement of Opposition to the Death Penalty. More than 550 faith leaders statewide have endorsed the statement to date. We invite Jewish faith leaders to sign both the Interfaith Statement and a separate statement from Texas Rabbis and Cantors.
Ongoing Religious Engagement on The Death Penalty in Texas
As a part of Melissa Lucio’s clemency application, over 100 faith leaders across Texas signed on to a letter urging Governor Abbott to grant Melissa clemency. These diverse faith leaders signed, ” In accordance with the shared values of our diverse religious and faith traditions and in the name of mercy, we respectfully urge you to commute her death sentence.” Read the letter here. The Catholic Conference of Bishops also issued their own letter which can be found here. The Baptist Standard covered the Baptist showing on the a sign on letter of faith leaders, submitted with Melissa Lucio’s application for clemency to Governor Abbott. Read the article detailing Baptist advocacy in the pursuit of justice and clemency for Melissa Lucio.
Stephen Reeves, the Executive Director of Fellowship Southwest, wrote a powerful opinion piece on how he came to oppose the death penalty, and ended with a plea to take action in the case of Melissa Lucio. Sojourners, a Christian media outlet, published a piece on Melissa Lucio, quoting Cameron Vickrey of Fellowship Southwest.
The Baptist Standard covered Melissa Lucio’s stay of execution, granted by the Court of Criminal Appeals; The piece quotes Steve Wells, Pastor of South Main Baptist Church, and Stephen Reeves, executive director of Fellowship Southwest.
Ramirez v. Collier
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its opinion in Ramirez v. Collier, a case on the issue of religious liberty, finding that John Ramirez, who faced execution by the State of Texas last year, likely has a right to have his pastor pray aloud and physically touch him during the execution. The state had argued that the request would compromise the safety of the execution. Read the 8-1 opinion, written by John Roberts here and recent coverage by the Texas Tribune to learn more.
Opportunities for Engagement and Discernment
- Host a gathering for faith leaders in your area, such as a breakfast or luncheon with a speaker and opportunities for discussion.
- Organize and mobilize members of your faith tradition or denomination as witnesses against the death penalty, for example, through prayer vigils on the days of execution in Texas.
- Host one of our voices of experience on the death penalty (exonerees, murder victims’ family members, friends and family members of individuals on death row, law enforcement officers).
- Lead a study or watch a film related to the death penalty in your faith community (see recommended resources below).
- Join TCADP’s advocacy efforts with elected officials.
We can provide you with speakers, fact sheets, films, discussion guides, or whatever else you might need to support these initiatives. Contact us with any questions.
Past Events and Outreach
TCADP frequently partners with the Equal Justice USA Evangelical Network, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, and Texas Impact in religious outreach initiatives. In 2021, TCADP established an important official partnership with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas, as they became an organizational affiliate. Listed below are official organizational affiliates of TCADP. If your group or organization is interested in becoming an Organizational Affiliate of TCADP, please complete and send in this form.
- Advocates for Justice and Peace, Holy Covenant United Methodist Church (Carrollton, Texas)
- Advocates for Social Justice, First United Methodist Church (Arlington, Texas)
- Bethel Community (Fort Worth, Texas)
- Catholics for Justice in the Church (Austin, Texas)
- Center for Women in Church and Society at Our Lady of the Lake University (San Antonio, Texas)
- Congregation of Divine Providence (San Antonio, Texas)
- Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas
- Dallas Friends Meeting (Dallas, Texas)
- Dominican Sisters of Houston (Houston, Texas)
- First Congregational Church United Church of Christ (Fort Worth, Texas)
- Fort Worth Religious Society of Friends (Fort Worth, Texas)
- Friends Meeting of San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
- Macedonia Baptist Church (San Antonio, Texas)
- Methodist Federation for Social Action, Rio Texas Chapter (Austin, Texas)
- New Jonang Buddhist Community (McKinney, Texas)
- Pax Christi Austin (Austin, Texas)
- Pax Christi Dallas (Dallas, Texas)
- Pax Christi San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
- Saint John’s United Methodist Church (Austin, Texas)
- St. Andrew Peace and Justice Task Force (Fort Worth, Texas)
- St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church (Austin, Texas)
- Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate (San Antonio, Texas)
- Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament (Corpus Christi, Texas)
- Social Action Council, First Unitarian Church of Dallas (Dallas, Texas)
- Travis Park United Methodist Church (San Antonio, Texas)
- Trinity United Methodist Church (Austin, Texas)
- University of the Incarnate Word Interfaith Council (San Antonio, Texas)
Recommended Resources for Faith Communities
“The Empty Chair.” This film is a balanced and compelling portrayal of four families whose loved ones have been murdered and who must confront their notions of revenge, forgiveness, and healing. It is particularly appropriate for audiences whose members hold differing views on the death penalty and groups that are addressing the issue for the first time. 2003. 52 min.
“70 X 7: The Forgiveness Equation.” This film thrusts viewers into the turmoil between two sisters, Sue Norton and Maudie Hills, whose responses to the murders of their parents differed significantly. It also relives the Oklahoma City bombing that killed Bud Welch’s daughter, Julie. “70 X 7” derives its title from scripture: “Peter asked Jesus how many times shall I forgive someone who harms me? Seven times?” And Jesus answered, “no Peter, not seven times but 70 X 7 times.” (Mathew 18:21-22). 2008. 36 minutes.
Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us by Shane Claiborne. HarperOne, 2016. In this reasoned exploration of justice, retribution, and redemption, Shane Claiborne, a bestselling author and director of Red Letter Christians, offers a powerful and persuasive appeal for the end of the death penalty. He interviews victims of violent crimes, survivors of death row, lawyers, experts, and an executioner, sharing their stories of horrific pain and heroic grace. Claiborne also explores the contrast between punitive justice and restorative justice, questioning our notions of fairness, revenge, and absolution. In Executing Grace, he reminds us of the divine power of forgiveness, and evokes the fundamental truth of the Gospel that no one, even a criminal, is beyond redemption. Download a study guide.
Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment by Mark Osler. Abingdon Press, 2009. Mark Osler, a law professor and former prosecutor, challenges Christian support for the death penalty by applying the story of Jesus’ trial and execution to the modern criminal justice system in the United States. Each chapter follows the arc of Christ’s last days and examines their symmetry with aspects of modern criminal trials, such as the use of a paid informant, denial of habeas corpus, and humiliation of the convicted.