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


This must not be allowed. As a former Correctinal Employee I find it repehensible that any inmate should be denied his or her choice of clergy in the final moments of life. This amounts to cruel and unsual punishment. It is not up to any man to decide what type of spitiual advisor any person should be allowed tohave with him in his final moments on this earth so long as that spitiual advisor meets the guidlines set forth by the governing department.
Added by Judy Conger RN, retired. UMC church member

Having a spiritual adviser present at the final moments of life should be granted to anyone who seeks it. Remember "that for the grace of God, that person could be me".
Added by Juancho Campanano

Every human being is a child of God endowed with dignity and worth by their Creator. Anyone who wishes to have their spiritual leader especially those who are about to die should always be granted; in fact it should be offered as a service to all. Let God be God while we love everyone to the very end.
Added by Vickie Hauge

I think this is so stupid!! If a person loosing his or her physical life, he should be able to spend his or her last hours with the religious person if their choice. Wouldn’t you??
Added by Alice L. Deal

From Jesus' parable of the vineyard workers, we understand that it matters not so much WHEN we come to salvation as it matters THAT we come. I would surely not want to be responsible for taking away the opportunity to come to faith and saving grace--through the words, guidance, and comfort of a clergy person--from someone in the last moments of earthly life, someone for whom Christ died.
Added by Rev. Penny Hansel, United Methodist Clergy, retire

Those facing their final moments of life must not be denied spiritual presence.
Added by Thomas Martin, UMC Clergy RET.

It seems to me that I recall a rather famous picture of John Wesley accompanying a man to his execution. If my 84 Yr old memory is correct it seems to me that we Methodists (United and otherwise) have an obligation to be present at the execution of a condemned person upon that person's request. To do less than this is to side with those whose piety fails to meet the high standard of JW.
Added by Marty Vaughan, Laity

I believe any person should be able to have the presence and comfort of their desired clergy or spiritual advisor present in their final moments prior to their execution.
Added by Shim Habte - United Methodist Church retired pastor

A prisoner doesn't lose the Grace of redemption because of past crimes, God's love and mercy is equally available to him, therefore no one should have the power to deny - the last right not in USA.
Added by Phil Hilliard

I strongly support the efforts of our UM leaders seeking the renunciation of this terrible policy.
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