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