What can bring together an Episcopalian minister, four socialists, two fight-the-power advocates, and a couple Baptists, among others? No, it isn’t a “Yell-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-so-that-everyone-else-knows-they’re-wrong” convention. In fact it was quite the opposite. We weren’t in the same room because of our differences; we were there because of one common cause.
That cause is the being against the death penalty, and in specific fighting for clemency for Troy Davis. For those who aren’t familiar with this case you can go to www.justicefortroy.org to learn more, but in short he was convicted in 1991 of killing off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail. His conviction was based entirely upon witness testimony, which is oftentimes very unreliable, and seven out of nine of those witnesses have since recanted (and one of the remaining has himself been implicated in the crime).
Needless to say this case is now full of holes, but when Davis was given an unprecedented evidentiary hearing the standard was no longer that he had to be proven guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, but that he had to prove complete innocence, which is nearly impossible. The presiding judge said he did not meet that standard, but he also said that the case against Davis, “may not be ironclad.”
Even so, Davis will be executed on September 21 unless the Georgia Board of Paroles and Pardons grants clemency. And so it is that prospect that brought together such a diverse group. It is also this cause that has garnered a diverse list of support, from Pope Benedict XVI to Jimmy Carter, from Desmond Tutu to William Sessions (former FBI director).
So where does faith play in to this? It is my understanding of the Christian faith that says God is the God of life, and that we Christians are to fight for all life, even that of those who have done wrong. Many, I know, disagree. But in a case such as this one, where so much doubt remains, we cannot let our nation execute this man, regardless of where you stand on the issue.
Please join with me, as a duty of our faith, in fighting this injustice. Sign the petition, participate in the march on Friday, September 16 starting at Woodruff Park in Atlanta at 6:00PM, or come to the prayer vigil Monday morning, September 19th at the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles (contact me to receive more info as it comes out).
And above all, pray with me that this tragedy will be avoided.