It is our sincere hope that this letter finds you well during the season of Lent. As Easter approaches, we would like to bring to your attention an issue that is especially timely for those of the Christian faith: the death penalty.
Last year the Connecticut General Assembly passed historic legislation repealing the state’s death penalty. Only a veto by the Governor prevented this legislation from becoming law. In response, diverse faith and civic groups committed to work together to achieve their goal of abolition and launched the Abolition Day Campaign to End Connecticut’s Death Penalty.
The Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ is one of the founding members of the Abolition Day Campaign, which includes over 30 state and national groups. Though we approach this issue from different perspectives, we share the common principle that Connecticut should not respond to violence by continuing the cycle of violence. We can – and must – do better.
Pastors are in a unique position to foster discussion on the death penalty among people of faith and further this campaign. Here are two specific ways to help continue the conversation:
1) Join the attached Sign-On Letter for Religious Leaders. In a letter to Governor Rell, I (Davida) emphasized that “the religious leadership in Connecticut speak with one voice in opposition to the death penalty, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim. Yes, you can find individuals here and there who take a different position, but we who lead are virtually in unanimous agreement.” With this sign-on letter, which will be released during the next legislative campaign, we can show how broad and diverse support for repeal is among Connecticut’s religious leaders.
2) Start a discussion in your congregation. The UCC’s campaign partner, the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty (CNADP), is glad to assist you in starting a discussion about this difficult issue in your congregations. The CNADP can provide a speaker, “a voice of experience,” who can address the death penalty from the perspective of a victim’s family member, law enforcement official, or death row exoneree. For more information on planning a speaking event, please visit: the CNADP web site.
Peace and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree
CNADP, Executive Director