Feelings about the Death Penalty Demonstration

In the course of publicizing the local demonstration against the upcoming execution by the state of Florida, someone from the congregation has expressed concern about being able to participate in the demonstration given the emotional intensity of the circumstances. I have not been part of such a demonstration in the past during an actual execution. So, what I say does not come from direct personal experience.

However, it seems to me, that to be part of the demonstration honors the magnitude of the situation. Taking a life. Of someone created in the image of God. That should feel intense. It should be significant. Marking the event in some way seems appropriate and sacred.

In addition, when it comes to issues of justice and morality, there is strength and comfort in solidarity with others who are like-minded. At this demonstration, we will be appalled together. There will be some solace in that. In the shared grief. In the acknowledged horror.

To be part of the demonstration also feels like a way to bring this heinous practice, capital punishment, into the public consciousness. It shows the random public that there are people who are paying attention, who find this abhorrent, and are doing something about it. It is a small rebellion against apathy, complacency, and self absorption.

This is also a way that we show people that Christianity is about more than just sex. Sometimes it seems like the public image of the church is of a sex obsessed social club. This is a way to declare to the world that people of faith are concerned about justice, in all forms, for everyone. Our calling is to make the world a better place for everyone.

The demonstration is also a way to express our commitment to the “least” of these – for those who are on death row, those who are executed, are often from the bottom of the social and economic pile. They are the ones with few resources, who are often forgotten. Our witness for those being executed is a witness on behalf of the least of these, and Jesus, who himself was a victim of capital punishment.

Yes, it may be an emotionally intense experience, but taking a life should be and in our shared witness there will be comfort and strength. “Where two or three are gathered. . .”


There will be an anti-death penalty demonstration during the execution of Oscar Bolin, Jr.  Thursday January 7 from 5-6 p.m. at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and 49th St. N. in mid-Pinellas County.

Parking is available in the lot behind Checkers Restaurant and at the bank on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Signs and banners will be provided, or you can bring your own.

Since execution dates often change, please check the media for updates and changes. The vigil occurs during the execution; if the execution is re-scheduled, the vigil will be rescheduled. FMI: sjstew@gte.net or (727) 492-1590.

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