Friday, September 23, 2011

We must carry on...

Editor's Note: This is the third post we have had highlighting the tragedy of Troy Davis' death (see They're Going to Kill My Friend and No justice? No peace). We want to highlight student activism around the important issue of abolishing the death penalty and point to ways we can continue to honor Troy Davis' memory by ensuring that we end this state violence.

by Lee Curtis

I write to you today with a heavy heart. Last night the State of Georgia executed Troy Anthony Davis for the 1989 murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark MacPhail despite many doubts as to Davis’ guilt. The case has rightly garnered outrage from local and international communities and has shown to many that the criteria needed for the State of Georgia to execute someone are much less substantial than we initially thought.

The Candler Community has been active in working to stop Davis' execution since it was first scheduled in June of 2007, and has continued working towards clemency even as the case bounced from State to Federal court. Candler Social Concerns Network, our primary campus organization dedicated to advocacy and activism, has shared wisdom and strategy from year to year, with alumni taking a strong lead in ensuring that current Candler students have the information and tools needed to continue the legacy of activism that is held dear by our students, faculty, and staff.

Needless to say, I am quite proud of our network of concerned activists. We have marched, prayed, chanted, and petitioned, but I am not writing to you to brag about the good work of the Candler Community. This is about your work. This is about our work.

We must become more firmly rooted in our belief that all people are beloved children of God and that there is nothing anyone can ever do to change that fact. We are a people called to love as we have been loved, to forgive as we have been forgiven. It is a hard work, but it is the work we have been called to. I wholeheartedly believe that this commission does not allow us to put any other human being to death, regardless of the violence of the crime, or heinousness of the act. Love never gives up on life. Of all the things the Apostle Paul tells us Love is, it is first and foremost patient. In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount we hear that if we call our sister or brother a fool we share the sin of the murderer. When we lose our loving patience the power of death rears its ugly head and Love is pushed to the edges allowing us to, even for the briefest of moments, deny the status of beloved children of God to our sisters and brothers.

This is exactly what happens whenever a death warrant is signed. It follows then that we need to stop signing death warrants.

I encourage you all to speak out against the death penalty on a national and state level. Make it known that the sentence of death is incompatible with the sentence of Love that God has spoken to the world in Christ. As the Church we are to bear that sentence, that thought, that logos as good news.

We can do that by taking a strong stand against the death penalty.

I encourage you to get involved in your church and in your community. International organizations like Amnesty International are fantastic sources of news and information but they are no substitute for local, grass roots organizations. We must allow the legacy of Troy Anthony Davis to be one of hope and life, even though we may now feel caught in midst of despair and death.

It is our faith, indeed our Creed, that the last word is life.

*The photo comes from this article


Lee Curtis is a 2nd year MDIV student at the Candler School of Theology and is a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. His involvement with the movement against the death penalty began in 2006 after spending time with the Open Door Community in Atlanta, an intentional community modeled on the Catholic Worker Movement. He currently serves as a seminarian at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Ga.

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