Interfaith Statement On Removal Of Chaplains From Execution Chamber

Clergy in prison

Chaplain Richard Lopez has witnessed many condemned prisoners eat their last meal and has given comfort. (Houston Chronicle)

Brothers and Sisters in the North Texas Conference,

The right of a condemned person to the comfort of clergy – and the rights of clergy to comfort the condemned – are among the longest-standing and most well-recognized forms of religious exercise known to civilization. And yet, here in the state of Texas, these rights are at risk.

In April 2019, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) changed its execution procedures and now bars any and all clergy/spiritual advisors from the execution chamber. This action stemmed from a request from a prisoner named Patrick Murphy, who asked for a Buddhist priest to be with him in his final moments as he was to be executed. The TDCJ initially denied his request, but the Supreme Court upheld his request on the grounds of the Free Exercise Clause. In response, the TDJC has decided to deny the religious freedoms of inmates of all faiths.

Please take a look at the attached document from the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty and the link to an interfaith statement. I have added my name, and I would encourage you to consider doing the same. The more and varied voices, the louder will be the rising chorus of justice.

Bishop Mckee


Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2019