Ministers from the Kansas City area gathered on Tuesday, September 2nd to deliver a letter to Governor Jay Nixon’s office detailing their opposition to the death penalty. They requested a meeting with the Missouri Governor, a professed Methodist, to lay out religious concerns about the use of the death penalty. Media coverage of their work includes a story on KMBC 9 news and KCUR radio. There has been no response from the Governor’s office yet.
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The full text of the clergy’s letter is below:
Dear Governor Nixon,
As religious leaders in the state of Missouri, we have come to express concerns from our various faith\traditions and as citizens of the state of Missouri. It is our profound conviction that the death penalty is an act of vengeance and violence that contributes to a wrongful culture in our society where vengeance, violence and killing are seen as normative solutions to individual or social problems. Within that basic conviction, we have the following reasons for seeking first a moratorium and then abolition of the death penalty in Missouri:
The death penalty has been demonstrated to risk the killing of innocent persons as has been repeatedly demonstrated in this country;
The death penalty risks cruel and horrific punishment in its method(s)as recently demonstrated in Oklahoma and other executions;
The death penalty demeans the moral standard of the state of Missouri and places us in company of numerous nations with known abhorrent human rights records—such as Iran, China, Syria and North Korea;
The death penalty has been shown to have no real value in deterring the crime of murder;
The death penalty prevents the possibility of the human spiritual and moral transformation of the accused;
The death penalty violates the religious rights of many residents in making murderers of every citizen of the state.
Thus we ask the following of you:
1. Place a stay of execution on the scheduled September 10 execution of Earl Ringo.
2. Establish a meeting as soon as possible with representative religious leaders from around the state to discuss this important issue with you and Attorney General Koster
3. Join us in seeking a moratorium on the death penalty in Missouri.
4. If you persist in continuing these executions, immediately order that clergy/approved religious representative be permitted to remain with persons scheduled for execution until that moment, if the prisoner so desires,.
We intend to continue on this path. Increasingly Americans oppose the death penalty on the grounds we have mentioned. According to a recent article in The Economist (April 26,2014) the death penalty is dying a ‘slow death’ in our nation as public opinion in support of it is declining. You, Governor Nixon, could be a key leader in changing the moral and justice quality not only of our state but of our nation. May God bless and guide you.
Rev. Dr. Wallace Hartsfield
Rabbi Doug Alpert
Rev. Dr. Robert Hill
Fr. Steve Cook
Rev. Dr. Jane Fisler Hoffman
Rev. Steven Andrews