Tennessee United Methodists Protest The Electric Chair

Tennessee United Methodists protest use of Electric Chair

Photo Courtesy of Mindi Godfrey, Forest Hills United Methodist Church

Tuesday, May 27th approximately 50 United Methodists from the Tennessee and Memphis Annual Conferences joined together in protest at the Tennessee capital building in Nashville.

The protest was in response to the recent bill signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslem that will allow the legislature to reconsider the electric chair as a means of capital punishment in that state. Tennessee does have a death penalty but convictions posted after 1998 would receive a lethal injection. The last death by electrocution in Tennessee was in 2007, Daryl Keith Holton.

Bishop Bill McAlilly, Nashville Episcopal Area of the UMC, posted to his blog late last week:

As the bishop of the Nashville Episcopal Area, representing United Methodists across 2/3 of the state of Tennessee, I urge the governor and legislature to call together leaders to examine if there is a better way to exercise justice in the State of Tennessee.  Likewise, I urge the people called United Methodist across the state to be in contact with their elected leaders to express our church’s opposition to the death penalty.

Our interest in capital punishment is not political. We worship Jesus Christ, a man put to death at the hands of the state. We also believe that the his resurrection proclaims God’s ability and desire to redeem all things.

May God redeem us all as we seek to live faithfully in following the One who calls us to cast no stones.

In response to that urging is what happened on the Tennessee state capital steps today.

Reported from the Tennessean:

Amid signs that read “Where’s the Grace?” and “United Methodist Clergy Against the Death Penalty,” the group sang hymns and prayed.

“We’re simply trying to demonstrate in a way that is peaceable to remind the community and all of Tennessee what the Methodist Church believes,” said Sara Tate, a pastor at Ridgely First United Methodist Church. “We believe in the sacred worth of all human beings.”

The United Methodist Church stance on capital punishment from the 2012 Book of Discipline states:

Page 137, Article 164, V. The Political Community G) The Death Penalty – We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. The United Methodist Church is deeply concerned about crime throughout the world and the value of any life taken by a murder or homicide. We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable. When governments implement the death penalty (capital punishment), then the life of the convicted person is devalued and all possibility of change in that person’s life ends. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that the possibility of reconciliation with Christ comes through repentance. This gift of reconciliation is offered to all individuals without exception and gives all life new dignity and sacredness. For this reason, we oppose the death penalty (capital punishment) and urge its elimination from all criminal codes.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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James Schaeffer

From where does the arrogance come that permits one to deny the simple command, “Thou shalt not kill!?” God must love hypocrites because there are so many of them.


Thanks, Bishop McAlilly. I am proud of The UMC being on the right side of a moral issue. This is one where we will prevail, in time.

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