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                         April 22, 2015  


The Abolitionist New
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed legislation that institutes the gas chamber
as a method of death in the Sooner State, if the drugs necessary for lethal injections cannot be secured.  In last year's legislative session, Tennessee reinstituted the electric chair and earlier this year, Utah reinstated the firing squad as a method of execution if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Ronald T. Clemmons, convener of EPF's Death Penalty Action Group points out, "this signals both real and symbolic changes. Oklahoma has never used the gas chamber previously, so adding a new method of execution is a clear signal that the state intends to move forward with capital punishment, regardless. Moreover, creating a new method of death that still has the historical association with World War II death camps is an unambig-uous indication that public pressure has minimal effect on its politicians."  

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Cathedral of St. Mark
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Mondoweiss has posted a press release (excerpted here) and paper from the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Palestine and Israel. 

Read the full press release and statement here.

As the Episcopal Church approaches its 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City this June, a new group, the Episcopal Committee for Justice in Israel and Palestine, has been created to advocate for a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land.

To coincide with the announcement of its formation, the Committee has issued a statement and resolution, featuring a foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, calling on the church to recognize the new political realities in Israel/Palestine and to adjust its policies accordingly to ensure that we are not profiting from human rights abuses and the suffering of our fellow human beings....

"As a church we have consistently opposed the occupation,' said Reverend Canon Gary Commins, DD, Deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Los Angeles, past chair of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, former Chair of the Episcopal Service Corps, and one of the authors of the statement. "At the present time, we may be complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. The time has long passed when the Episcopal Church must recognize this. The time is now for us to truly respect the dignity of every human being, including Palestinians."

Noting the changes that have occurred since the church's Executive Council called for constructive engagement with such companies in 2005, including the collapse of the US-sponsored peace process last year due mainly to Israeli settlement construction, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent pledge never to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, the statement urges church members to take a moral stand, following in the footsteps of our brothers and sisters in other mainline churches such as the Presbyterians and United Methodists, who have adopted boycott and divestment initiatives targeting Israel's nearly half-century-old occupation of Palestinian lands. The statement reads in part:

"At this juncture, in this new landscape, our purpose is to help end the occupation and to assure civil rights and equality for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine. The Church's approach should be straightforward: boycott, divestment, and sanctions are tools of nonviolent peacemaking that put the weight of our corporate dollars behind our commitment to justice. The Church's financial portfolio can again be used as an instrument of political change. And it can help to break the stalemate while illuminating the ways that America otherwise enables a brutal status quo."