Religious leaders in Arkansas weigh in on upcoming executions

Local churches react to upcoming executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Talk about the pending executions has made its way into churches and religious settings. Many preachers, rabbis and bishops have been vocal about their stance.

Bishop Anthony Taylor over the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock has spoken with parishioners about the Catholic view of capital punishment.

"The death penalty should not be used in situations where the public good can be protected without imposing the death penalty and in our society, that is the case," said Bishop Taylor in a letter.

He continued the letter saying that while the eight men may very well be guilty, they still "retain the God-given dignity of any human life."

“Those executions should not go forward and He's got the power to stop them," said Bishop Taylor.

Reverend Betsy Singleton Snyder told us several recent sermons at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church share why Methodists oppose the death penalty.

"We believe God is the giver and creator of life," Snyder said, "and even if it’s a state or federal law, we don't believe we have the right to be complicit along with the state in murdering someone because God always is restoring recreating and reconciling people."

Pastor Terrance Long of Mercy Baptist Church has told his congregation to be in prayer for the situations.

"We have to be in prayer that we make the right decision and that our government is making the right decisions in these executions," said Long.

Rabbi Barry Block of Congregation B'Nai Israel said he signed a multi-faith clergy letter opposing the upcoming executions.

“The death penalty, in the Jewish tradition, is not to be carried out in mass," said Block. “The court that puts to death as many as one person every 70 years is a blood thirsty court, and I’m afraid that Arkansas would be blood thirsty if it allowed seven or eight executions to go forward."

We reached out to Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office for response. In a statement, his office said:

“The Governor has met with Bishop Taylor on multiple occasions and they’ve discussed a number of issues including the death penalty. He will be happy to meet with Bishop Taylor again in the near future. [The Governor] is carrying out the sentencing of the jury and his responsibility as governor.”

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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