The Abolitionist New 
Vol. 1, No. 1
January 2013
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Few groups of the nineteenth century were reviled as much as the abolitionists. Although many of these people are today's heroes-Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass-they were reviled by many of their contemporaries, both North and South. The cause for which they suffered seems axiomatic today: they called for immediate emancipation of 4 million African-Americans held in chattel slavery.


The moral imperative that guided the abolitionists is still alive today among Christians who advocate for the end of the death penalty. Today's death penalty abolitionists are working against the clock to spare the lives of men and women sentenced to die, oftentimes in spite of facts and evidence.


Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1972, there have been 1,314 executions in America. In 2012, 43 people were put to death in the United States, with 3,146 people still on death row awaiting their fate.


The Episcopal Peace Fellowship recognized years ago that eliminating the death penalty is essential to accomplishing its mission of promoting non-violence. The EPF Death Penalty Abolition Action Group is charged to oversee these efforts.


Education-both of fellow congregants and the general public- is part of this responsibility. In order to become more informed about death penalty issues, The Abolitionist electronic newsletter will be issued monthly. In the interim between newsletters, a new Death Penalty Abolition Action Group Facebook page has been created. Please "Like Us" so you will get up-to-date news related to the death penalty.


The task of erasing the death penalty in the United States is daunting. Yet our duty must be met. The message of the Gospels does not comport to state sponsored murder. We must begin now change the law.


We are called to be the new abolitionist.


Ronald T. Clemmons


Death Penalty Abolition Action Group

Episcopal Shield Episcopal Church Against The Death Penalty

In 1958, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church opposed capital punishment on a theological basis that the life of an individual is of infinite worth in the sight of Almighty God, and the taking of such a human life falls within the providence of Almighty God and not within the right of Man.
1979-D004 Reaffirm Opposition to Capital Punishment Concurred As Substituted and Amended The 66th General Convention reaffirms its opposition to capital punishment and calls on all dioceses and individual Church members to work actively to abolish the death penalty.

1991-D056 Reaffirm Opposition to Capital Punishment Concurred As Amended The 70th General Convention reaffirms its position opposing capital punishment. It deplores the expansion of capital offenses by federal legislative action and supports initiatives to establish alternatives to incarceration and to reduce recidivism.

2000-A082 Reaffirm Opposition to the Death Penalty and Call for a Moratorium Concurred as Amended The 73rd General Convention reaffirms its opposition to the death penalty and calls for a moratorium on the use of capital punishment.

2000-A083 Urge Parishes and Dioceses to Study the Death Penalty and Explore Reasons for Opposition Concurred as Substituted The 73rd General Convention urges parishes and dioceses to study the death penalty and explore the reason for the Church's opposition.
New Book: An Innocent Man Executed

Only a few people in the country have spent more time on death row over the last four decades that the Reverend Joe Ingle.


After graduation from Union Theological Seminary in 1974, Rev. Ingle was employed by the Southern Prison Ministry, working mainly with death row inmates.


In 1999, he became involved with Philip Workman, a Tennessee inmate sentenced to death for the 1981 killing a Memphis policeman. Ingle became Workman's spiritual advisor after Workman experienced a jailhouse vision that converted him to Christianity.


Rev. Ingle recently published The Inferno: A Southern Morality Tale, which follows Workman's ill-fated attempt to prove his innocence. The book documents how Workman was the victim of a cover-up involving the police, courts, and elected Tennessee officials.


The cover-up began the morning after the shooting when it became known that the deceased police office had been killed by one of the other officers at the scene. Rather than admitting that the officer had been killed by friendly fire, Memphis officials orchestrated a conviction by falsifying and withholding records. Workman was sentenced to death for an act he did not commit.


Over the next quarter-century Workman tried to gain a hearing on the facts of the case after his lawyers discovered the withheld records. Tennessee officials, despite the fact that evidence against Workman was manufactured, refused to allow the facts to become public. Workman was executed in 2007.


This is an excellent study on the tragic consequences of the death penalty.

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Kansas Activists Organize "Abolition Day"
The Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty is sponsoring a statewide lobbying effort on January 30 in an effort to have the death penalty law repealed.

The date for the event was selected to recognize the day that Republican Governor Edward Hoch signed the bill to repeal the state's first death penalty law: January 30, 1907.

The death penalty was reinstated in 1934 and remained in effect until 1972, when the Supreme Court  struck down the death penalty. After another Supreme Court ruling in 1976 that allowed resumption of the death penalty, Kansas restored the death penalty law in 1994.  
People wanting to abolish the death penalty have been urged to call the Governor's office, along with their state representative and senator asking them to repeal the law. The callers have been asked to stress three points:  
  • The death penalty risks making the worst mistake of all: convicting and executing an innocent person.
  • The death penalty is more costly than a sentence of life without parole, and has not been proven as a deterrent to violent crime.
  • The death penalty is applied inconsistently, and discriminates based on race, income, and where the crime took place.
 You can follow the work of KCAPD on its Facebook page