Theologians Call for the Clemency of Execution


A video produced on behalf of Kelly, by friends at SeMA Films:

Today, March 2nd 2015, Kelly Gissendaner, a theology graduate from Candler School of Theology while in prison, will be executed by the State of Georgia. Mrs. Gissendaner was found guilty for her involvement in her husband’s stabbing death in 1997. In the following seventeen years Mrs. Gissendaner has gone through a remarkable transformation while in prison. Many police officers and clergy speak to this transformation in her application to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Dr. James Waits, Former Dean of Candler School of Theology and Chair of the Board of Georgia Prison Ministries writes:

“I believe we can see in Kelly Gissendaner a truly redeemed person. If our faith teaches anything, it is that such persons, including ourselves, may hope for the chance to prove the reliability of our changed ways. Kelly has already exhibited an exemplary change in her life, and surely has more to offer as an example of her own redemption. I can see no good purpose in taking that life from us. Though she may continue to endure the consequences of her deed, the prospect of a life-giving ministry and example to others in the prison would have immeasurably more impact.”

Kelly Gissendaner in her transformation has even struck up a friendship with renowned theologian Jurgen Moltmann, who, spent time with her in prison while in Atlanta on a speaking engagement.

From the NYTimes, “Death Row Inmate Finds Common Ground With Theologians”

Ms. Gissendaner sent Professor Moltmann a paper that she had written on Bonhoeffer. He was impressed, and he wrote back. The two Christians — a convicted murderer in Georgia and a retired theologian in Tübingen — became pen pals. In four years, they have exchanged “20 or 30 letters,” Professor Moltmann said, speaking from his home in Germany.

They discuss “theological and faith questions,” he said. “And I have found her very sensitive, and not a monster, as the newspapers depicted her. And very intelligent.” She has been rehabilitated, he said. “She has changed her mind, and her life.”

From NBC News:

Other advocates — including the almost 400 clergy who signed Sunday’s open letter to state and federal judges and elected officials — point to her acceptance of full responsibility and her graduation from the program for incarcerated women at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, in which she became a teacher.

“Her journey is vividly demonstrated in her support of other inmates and her witness to young people in prison-prevention programs,” they wrote. “On more than one occasion, Kelly has prevented another inmate from taking their own life.”

“I feel for the family of her husband, but this will not ease their pain,” the Rev. Cathy Zappa, director of the prison theology program, told NBC station WXIA of Atlanta. “She cannot undo what she’s done, but she’s living her life in a way that shows she takes what she’s done very seriously, She is trying to turn her life to good.”

An online petition has been started on Kelly’s behalf to bring to the Governor of Georgia. It currently has over 58,300 signatures.

The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church doctrine on the Political Community and the death penalty

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.

Leave a Reply

19 Comments on "Theologians Call for the Clemency of Execution"

applications-education-miscellaneous.png
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)
 
Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
The blame for the frequency of abortion. – assuming, one can quantify how many are too many, lies squarely at the feet of the right-wing forces in this country and the wind they’ve inherited in their zeal to slut-shame. They have truly reed what they have sown. The amount of acceptable and unacceptable abortions can never be quantified except in the hearts of evil manipulators. Bottom line, it is none of your business if a woman obtains an abortion, why, how many times, or anything at all related to the choice. Should the forces of evil overturn Roe, abortion will… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Just in case anyone hasn’t figured it out yet. Anyone. ANYone who trusts in Scripture, or trusts in the U.S. Constitution, or who believes in following due process, who believes in fighting injustice fair and square, and who believes that all life is precious even the unborn, the disabled, the aged is of the devil. And anything anyone on the far, far-right has done wrong, well, all of us share in the ultimate guilt and shame for what the few have done. But no one left of center is guilty of anything let alone the deeds of the far, far… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

So much for thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Kevin
Guest
I am Ok with the death penalty. More often than not it is used as leverage for the prosecutor to cut a deal or get one partner to roll over on the other as happened in this case. What I do not see explicitly in this story is a true expression of remorse or repentance by Ms. G. Has she asked the victim’s family to forgive her? Would she have made this transformation if she were not on death row? The death penalty may have saved her. Her partner in crime with the life sentence who could be released someday… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
Kevin says, “What I do not see explicitly in this story is a true expression of remorse or repentance by Ms. G. Has she asked the victim’s family to forgive her” Here’s his answer from the condemned woman herself: “There are no excuses for what I did. I am fully responsible for my role in my husband’s murder,” she said. “I had become so self-centered and bitter about my life and who I had become, that I lost all judgment.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/02/kelly-renee-gissendaner-execution_n_6787606.html?hpcrime=y The execution was delayed over issues regarding the chemicals used in lethal injection, for the time being. Now, Kevin,… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
For me it’s NOT about remorse, or if they have become born again or if the murder has gotten a “theology” degree from Candler. Those things are all irrelevant. She is guilty, but the most punishment humans should offer when they have the luxury of due processes is incarceration without any hope of getting out. It is not for us to kill when we have a choice. I feel the same about unborn. People always have a choice in those situations so I believe we should help one another choose life, rather than killing the innocent unborn 50% of which… Read more »
Kevin
Guest

Wes
The premise of the article seems to be that she no longer deserves execution because she has been transformed. The execution is for what she did not for who she is or was. If you are against capital punishment on principle then it does not matter. She says she has accepted responsibility for her actions then she should accept the consequences. I do not see how locking a person in a cell until dead is much different.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

IMO life imprisonment is a worse fate that an execution

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

george

Wes Andrews
Guest
No, it is never justified to kill the abortionist. Kevin the woman is choosing to have the procedure. Is her decision based on being deceived by the pseudo-medical abortion team, yes. Is her decision based on fear, yes. Is her decision based on “what others might think,” yes, but to a lesser degree these days. Ultimately, she is potentially exploited by many voices, the voice of her fear, of her “partner”, of “feminists”, of her parents, of the pressures of culture, yes. All these voices seem to drowned out the still small voice that says, “I love you, and I,… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest
Kevin, for me, there is a big difference. I believe in the sanctity of life. I don’t believe individuals or the state should kill people (born, unborn, guilty, innocent, aged, disabled, etc), especially if that individual is kept from endangering others. I think the “state” is incapable of valuing life without the help of those who trust in the higher law found in Scripture and modeled in the life of Jesus. I wish to put barriers and limitations on governance, because it is so easily abused. I am also a realist and believe in the sanctity of life in regard… Read more »
Kevin
Guest

Wes,
I tried to pin you down on using violent measures to prevent abortion and you dodged nicely. You are a clever guy. Keep posting. I enjoy your comments. I do not even read the comments of some of the others here.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

That’s a no-brainer because even for those who relish the slut-shaming opportunities it provides the fetus fetishists know a fetus is not not morally superior to a woman and if they did start going around executing doctors willy-nilly soon the good people would rise up against THEM and they’d lose. They can only win hearts and minds by lying and once they start using actions instead of words, their deception becomes evident for even the thickest Fox News viewer.

Kevin
Guest

By your logic lethal force against an abortionist who is in the act of doing a legal procedure would be acceptable. I can’t go there with you. The state is an amoral entity that really does not value life. I do not look to the state for value judgments. When it comes to limiting government I am all in with you there.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
If penology provided safe environments I’d have no disagreement, but as it is, elderly and infirm prisoners cost the taxpayer a bundle and the revenge isn’t worth it. The way to help women choose other options besides abortion is to create an economy which provides those options. Supporting plutocracy by supporting politicians who engage in the desired sort of slut shaming creates the opposite results. Not all “progressives” favor firearms confiscation. Indeed it was Ronald Reagan who tightened Cali gun regs after black Panthers showed up at the state capitol in Sacremento with AKs. The assertion otherwise is propaganda conceived… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest
I’m watching with interest but not making any calls or signing any petitions. One question I failed in my 1964 confirmation class test on the social creed involved this issue and I got it wrong. I understand perfectly the UMC’s position but I favor retention of the death penalty as a last resort for multiple murders or treason. This case IMO does not meet that threshhold. The states which use the death penalty primarily use it to enforce state terror against minorities. Here, the fact she enlisted a paramour to stab the husband is probably more offensive to the patriarchy… Read more »
Wes Andrews
Guest

Ha, I’m against the death penalty. Go figure…

Vicki Wicker
Guest

I think characterizing people who vote Republican as “revenge hungry” is highly inappropriate. It is conservatives who seek to end the most vile form of capital crime, and that is the murder of the innocent unborn.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
Let’s see if we can’t clarify things: I didn’t say ALL Republican Primary voters were “revenge hungry” but that enough are that to appear to be a wuss was a no-go at that point in time for a candidate serious about winning the nomination . Research supports this. . Now as to your second assertion there, I don’t believe your assertion “conservatives seek to end [abortion]” is supported by the facts because any of them with the smarts to have completed a business degree or such knows that is impossible. The goal is more to use it as a vehicle… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Google+
%d bloggers like this: