A Petition Among Christian Churches and Leaders
“As Christians, we would call upon our churches and our nation to heed the example of Jesus.“
Authored by theologian Dr. George Hunsinger, in the wake of Troy Davis’ execution on September 21, 2011, this petition appeals to Christians everywhere to remember our own state-executed Savior and to end the death penalty once and for all in the United States. One of Unbound‘s many partners, Seminarians for Peace and Justice, writes that “With the contribution of other well-renowned ethicists and theologians, Dr. Hunsinger has created a document that, given the time, energy, and attention, can be an instrument for radical change with the systems that distort justice and peace within our society. This document is an opportunity for the church to respond with a resilient and emphatic “NO” to the ideology of “an eye for an eye” and a “YES” to the reality of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.”
Let us close with words from Patrick David Heery, Managing Editor of Unbound, upon the death of Troy Davis: “Troy Davis was executed Wednesday night. The same Troy Davis whose case lacked any physical evidence, most of whose witnesses recanted their incrimination, explaining police coercion. The same Troy Davis whom the Pope called innocent. The same Troy Davis who was and is a child of God – whether guilty or not. On this day, we grieve for Troy and his family. We grieve for the dead police officer and his family. We grieve for whoever the real killer is. We grieve for a society that enforces nonviolence through violence. We grieve for a state-imposed execution not so different from the state execution of our savior, another ‘criminal’ of an ‘unwanted’ and allegedly ‘disposable’ race of people. Today, we grieve. Tomorrow, we continue to speak and work for justice, not in spite, but because of, Troy’s memory.”
Or, as it says in the MCC Washington Office Guide to the Death Penalty, “Jesus did not die for some sinners. He died for all. Unless we believe that every person, whether murderer or not, is redeemable and must have the chance to be redeemed, there is no real gospel. Depriving a person of the possibility of reconciliation with God and humanity is the real tragedy of capital punishment.”
Dr. George Hunsinger is the Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and the founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). Seminarians for Peace and Justice is a student organization at Princeton Theological Seminary, and includes a sub-group that focuses on prison reform, the cessation of torture, and the abolition of the death penalty.