“Each Man’s Death Diminishes Me”

(From Jon Donne, English Poet and Anglican Priest)

The purpose of Prison Awareness month in our Diocese is to raise awareness among all our members about issues that should concern us as Christ followers. One of those issues is capital punishment.

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans (61%) oppose the death penalty, states throughout our nation continue to pursue and carry out executions. Nearly half of the death sentences imposed in the US (49.9%) were reversed as a result of court decisions (Death Penalty Information Center, Census 1972-2021). Official misconduct is the leading cause of these wrongful capital convictions. This statistic clearly indicates a flawed system of justice that results in the needless confinement of individuals on death row for decades and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars to keep them there.  

The Episcopal Church USA reaffirmed its opposition to the death penalty in 2000. In 2015, the Diocese of AZ passed a resolution declaring its opposition to capital punishment and encouraged members to actively bear witness, demonstrate, and speak out in public and private against Arizona’s continued use of executions.

So how can we become involved in abolishing the death penalty in our state? The Death Penalty Action organization has reinvented and activated their “For Whom the Bells Toll” project. This project invites communities of faith to publicly express opposition to executions and to pray for all of those impacted in the aftermath of murder. Suggestions include hanging a black drape outside the doors of our church buildings on the day of an execution, displaying opposition signs during the week of scheduled executions, adding special prayers at services as an execution date approaches, and more.

Please check out the links provided, as well as the Death Penalty Alternatives for AZ website, and prayerfully consider adopting a practice at your church that will support our Diocesan call to actively protest capital punishment in our state as well as our nation.