Warren Hill was executed by the state of Georgia on January 27, 2015, despite a diagnosis of intellectual disabilities and the protests of Episcopal Bishops, for the murder of a fellow inmate.
Georgia is the only state which requires that evidence of intellectual disability be proved beyond a reasonable doubt; Hill’s diagnosis would likely have been upheld in every other state, according to media reports and an editorial in the New York Times.
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright wrote a letter asking the State Board of Pardons to reconsider, citing Christian values and a strong record of advocacy against executions by the Episcopal Church.
His colleague, the Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase, reflected on the execution last week, claiming complicity, while rejecting the execution and criticizing the barbarism of the death penalty.
My brother and colleague in the Diocese of Atlanta, Bishop Rob Wright, wrote before Warren Lee Hill was murdered that it wouldn’t “be done in his (Bishop Wright’s) name.” That’s how he sees it. While I stand with him in opposition to this barbarity, I differ a bit with my brother and colleague. There’s no truthful way around this. This murder was done in Bishop Wright’s name, in my name,and in your name. Every citizen of this State, whether we want to own it or not, is complicit in the murder of Warren Lee Hill. No, we did not strap him to the executioner’s table, nor did we inject him with poisonous drugs, but we cannot deny our complicity.
Bishop Wright also opposed the recent execution of another Georgian, Andrew Brannan, the Vietnam veteran who struggled with medical care for mental illness since his return from that war. Brannan was convicted of murdering Deputy Kyle Dinkheler in a 1998 confrontation. Writing for the Telegraph of Georgia, Catherine Meeks shares her experience protesting the execution of Brannan as it happened.
In Oklahoma, opponents of the death penalty have had limited success in preventing three scheduled executions. The Supreme Court has granted stays of execution in order to hear challenges to the use of a combination of drugs which led to the botched execution, in 2014, of Clayton Lockett.
The Barna Group found that support for the death penalty was lower among self-identified Christians than the rest of America, compared to 2012 results by Gallup. Gallup found that 63% of Americans support the death penalty, whereas Barna Group showed 40% of Christians supported the death penalty.
What impact do you think the Episcopal Church can have on this issue? Are there other ways that you’ve seen faith leaders address executions?
Posted by David Streever