Pro-Life Christians Protest Death Penalty at Supreme Court

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Forty years after the first execution of Gary Gilmore under contemporary laws, 18 pro-life people of faith were arrested at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday — including Sojourners colleagues Lisa Sharon Harper and Peter Armstrong.

The group unfurled a 30-foot-long banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!” on the steps of the Court.  On the sidewalk, a crowd of over 80 supporters observed the action, carrying 40 posters (1 for each year) with the names of the other 1442 men and women executed since 1977.

They also carried roses in two colors, a reminder that they are remembering both families of the murdered and families of the executed as they stand together saying, as one banner did, “We Remember the Victims, But Not With More Killing.”

The group included several murder victim family members, a death row exoneree, family members of the incarcerated, pastors and religious leaders, and national leaders in the death penalty abolition movement. It was the largest act of civil disobedience against the death penalty in modern history.

Shane Claiborne, influential Christian author and activist, speaking of the significance of religious leaders, said this:  “Sadly, the death penalty has succeeded in America not in spite of Christians but because of us.  Over 80% of executions in the past 40 years have been in the Bible Belt.  As a Christian, that is especially troubling because one of the tenants of our faith is this: No one is beyond redemption.  Much of the Bible was written by murderers who were given a second chance. Moses. David. Paul.  The Bible would be much shorter without grace.  So it was a beautiful thing to stand alongside my fellow clergy and faith leaders…  And, if you go to jail, it’s good to have a nun and a priest next to you.  As we look at history, we are reminded that we’ve got good company among the holy troublemakers who have gone to jail for justice.  Abortion is not the only pro-life issue.”

Those arrested were Peter Armstrong (Sojourners, Washington, DC), Leroy Barber (Portland, OR), Abraham J. Bonowitz (Columbus, OH), SueZann Bosler (Miami, FL), Shawn Casselberry (Chicago, IL), Shane Claiborne (Philadelphia, PA), John Dear (Santa Fe, NM), Randy Gardner (Taylorsville, UT), Lisa Sharon Harper (Sojourners, Washington, DC), Derrick Jamison (Cincinnati, OH), Art Laffin (Washington, DC), Scott Langley (Ghent, NY), Michael McBride (Oakland, CA), Tom Muther (Topeka, KS), Doug Pagitt (Minneapolis, MN), Jack Payden-Travers (Lynchburg, VA), Sam R. Sheppard (Oakland, CA), and Kelton Tupper (Cheverly, MD).

Those arrested spent 30 grueling hours in D.C. lock-up with the Supreme Court police, D.C. Dept. of Corrections Central Cell Block, and in the holding cells of D.C. Superior Court. They were arraigned on Wednesday afternoon arraigned in chains before Judge Staples in D.C. Superior Court. They were charged with “parading” and given a “stay away order” from the grounds of the Supreme Court. A status hearing was set for Feb. 24.

Since 1977, there have been 1442 more state-sponsored executions. Nearly 3,000 prisoners are currently on death rows in 31 states.

NEWS: @SojoImmigration Webinar Tomorrow

postTomorrow, Sojourners is hosting a webinar on the current state of immigration reform. Sojourners’ immigration organizer Ivone Guillen has arranged the event. It will be moderated by the most awesome Lisa Sharon Harper and will include a variety of expert partners in the immigration field.

This is your chance to get caught up on the current state of play of immigration implementation and legislation — especially the ripple effect of potential Department of Homeland Security defunding. If you haven’t registered yet please use this link to sign-up: Click here to sign up for our FREE February webinar.

Date: February 25, 2015 Webinar
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST
Call In number:  (712) 775-7031
Meeting ID: 857-814-852

*Access to the visual portion of the webinar will be sent out on the morning of the event to those who sign up. *

Feel free to retweet @SojoImmigration as that will be the main handle at play for this event.

If you are looking for a quick refresher, please see recent blog articles for more in-depth explanations of relevant issues which will be discussed during the webinar:

DHS Funding: http://www.sojo.net/blogs/2015/02/10/homeland-security-funding-latest-gop-bargaining-chip-immigration-debate

26 State Lawsuit:  http://www.sojo.net/blogs/2015/02/19/ruling-26-state-immigration-lawsuit-3-things-you-need-know

Speaking Gig: Church Women United in Atlantic City, NJ

Lisa Sharon Harper

On Friday, December 2, 2011, I’ll be in Atlantic City, NJ, with 400 women at Church Women United, one of the largest Christian women’s organizations in the U.S. representing 26 denominations and supporting organizations, to celebrate 70 years of fighting the good fight and running the race.

I’ll join with Lisa Sharon Harper in speaking at the morning breakfast on the role of Sojourners in faith-inspired social justice movements and then Lisa and I will lead afternoon workshops on Christians and the environment.

Our workshop is titled, “For God so loved the world…”: Christians, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice.” From the Genesis creation story to Isaiah’s critique of imperial clear-cutting of the cedars of Lebanon to contemporary issues like the Keystone XL pipeline and fracking, Christians are engaged in advancing environmental justice. What do we need to understand about climate change, environmental racism, and environmental sexism? How do our scriptures give us a firm foundation for entering into very contemporary environmental issues?

For more information, contact Church Women United at (212) 870-234.