“Belhar speaks a word of good news to the poor and oppressed , and those made ‘other’ by our unjust habits. It also reminds us, especially during Lent, that this good news is entrusted to those of us who would be the church. It is a word we must not only speak to friendly and hostile audiences, but also enact in peace.”
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar
Guide me, guide us, God, to live good news.
This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
See you along the Trail.
I have been remiss in posting about the death penalty. It is part of my privilege that I can “become too busy” or “have other things to do.” The reality is that I can choose to engage this issue or not. That’s a choice many of my sisters and brothers do not have.
Today, I choose engagement.
The State of Georgia has set April 27, 2016 as the date to execute Daniel Anthony Lucas. Lucas was convicted for the 1998 murder of eleven-year-old Bryan Moss, fifteen-year-old Kristin Moss, and their father Steven Moss. Two children and their father.
There seems little doubt as to his guilt. His crime is heinous. I cannot begin to imagine the grief and pain endured by those who love Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. My heart breaks for young lives ended too soon; my heart goes out to those who grieve.
But execution is not the answer. It will not restore Bryan, Kristin, and Steven.
Responding to killing with killing pays no honor to the person that Bryan, Kristin, and Steven were and might become.
Execution says more about us than it does about the person we execute. It lowers us to the level of those who kill.
Nothing justifies the murder of Bryan, Kristin, and Steven. But the execution of their killer is not the answer. Life imprisonment is.
The National Coalition against the Death Penalty suggests several actions we can take:
- Contact the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles and ask them to halt this execution: contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by tweet at @GA_ParoleBoard or by phone at (404) 656-4661. If you prefer to send a letter, here is their mailing address: State Board of Pardons and Paroles, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE, Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909.
- Contact Gov. Nathan Deal to influence his Parole Board: While the parole board is the only entity that can grant clemency, its five members are appointed by the Governor. Contact Gov. Deal and urge him to intervene at Governor Nathan Deal, Office of the Governor, 203 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. You can also contact him by phone at (404) 656-1776, via this link or by twitter@GovernorDeal.
- If you live in Georgia, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Attend a vigil organized by the Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, around the scheduled execution.
- Please share this information with your friends, especially those in Georgia, and ask them to help halt the execution of Mr. Lucas by taking one of the actions listed above.
It is time to end the death penalty.
See you along the Trail.
Amnesty International USA provides this introduction to the situation and an opportunity to send a message to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles:
Warren Hill is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on July 18, despite having been ruled “mentally retarded” by a preponderance of the evidence by a Georgia state judge. Executing persons with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has the opportunity and the responsibility to do what courts have been unable to do – prevent this execution and preserve the integrity of Georgia justice.
To learn more about this case, read or print AIUSA’s full Urgent Action sheet: PDF format
Warren Hill is to be executed for the 1990 murder of a fellow prisoner, Joseph Handspike. He has a mental disability the seriousness of which leaves the constitutionality of his pending execution in real doubt. However, Amnesty International USA reports that Georgia requires defendants to prove their mental disability to “the enormously high ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard.” AIUSA suggests that in most other states, Hill would not face execution.
I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. There is no justification for his death.
But I oppose Warren Hill’s execution and I have signed AIUSA’s call to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles because of questions about Hill’s mental capacities, because it will not bring Joseph Handspike back, because it will be an act of vengeance, because imprisonment without parole is an option, and because state violence diminishes us all.
See you along the Trail.