In one these sermons, the itinerate minister tried to describe eternity. He stated that if a butterfly, one of the most fragile creatures on earth, were to pass by the highest mountain in the world once a year and slightly brush its wing against the mountain, that eternity would just be beginning when the mountain was worn evenly with the ground due to the butterfly's annual touching. This apologue relates directly to the fight to end the death penalty.
This insatiable maw of death is still being fed in the United States, despite some encouraging signs in some states that abolition of the death penalty is a legislative priority. In the last thirty days, the State of Georgia executed Andrew Allen Cook, and the State of Texas executed Carl Henry Blue. Another Georgia inmate, judged mentally challenged by all doctors who have evaluated him, was granted a stay of execution thirty minutes before his execution. His lawyers must now prove that he is mentally disabled "beyond all reasonable doubt", a standard unique to Georgia.
Why do Christians allow the death penalty to continue? Why aren't Episcopalians, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and all other branches of U.S. Christendom in the halls of the respective state legislatures demanding that the death penalty be repealed? How can inaction be justified?
The Episcopal Church has a long-standing history of opposition to the death penalty. What, however, is being done by the church--nationally, diocesan or parish level--to implement the resolutions passed by the church's governing bodies? High-toned sentiment and poetic words are useless unless there are actions to implement the resolutions.
The call to abolish capital punishment is a life and death matter. Our failure to eradicate this vestige of our less civilized past will cause people to die, many of whom are innocent. The states with capital punishment are not going to have a Damascus road experience, unless political pressure is brought to bear.
Like the mountain and the butterfly, persistent and virtually imperceptible action by the states will eventually result in the death of the 3,146 people currently on death row. Christians have to emerge from the cocoon of indifference and end the death penalty--now!