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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

10-10 The Columbus Dispatch

Clergy ask Taft to half executions
By: Dennis M. Mahoney
    Religious leaders yesterday called on Gov. Bob Taft to declare a moratorium on executions in Ohio in what they hope will be the first step toward ending the state’s death penalty.
    “While the Catholic Church remains staunchly in favor of administering justice to those guilty of heinous crimes, the Catholic Church also believes that the taking of the life of another person is not a just form of punishment in our day,” Bishop James A. Griffin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus said.
    Griffin was among eight leaders representing the Interfaith Coalition to Stop Executions who signed a letter to Taft asking for an execution moratorium and for the creation of a commission to study the death penalty.
    The signing took place at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, where a daylong forum on capital punishment was held.  It was one in a series of “Journey of Hope” events sponsored by anti-death penalty advocates that have been held across the state during the past two weeks.
    United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough of the Columbus based West Ohio Conference said the death penalty does not deter crime, as many supporters contend.
    “Its only purpose is revenge,” Ough said.  “That is contrary to Christian teaching, and detrimental to building a civilized and violence-free society.”
    Bishop Callon Halloway of Columbus, leader of the Southern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said his denomination has been against the death penalty for more than 40 years “because it demeans all of our life, and our God is a God of life.”
    The Rev. David Schwab, conference minister for the United Church of Christ in Ohio, said that while the public generally supports the death penalty, that viewpoint is beginning to change.
    “People are starting to look into their own souls and saying, ‘This just isn’t right,’” he said.
    Schwab said he hopes Taft takes the letter seriously.
    “I know he receives pressure from other group, especially victims of violence,” he said.  “But I hope he understands the power of nonviolence.”
    Taft spared the light of one convicted killer in June, but he has turned down 10 other requests for clemency.
    Other signers yesterday included Rabbi Harold Berman of Congregation Tifereth Israel on the East Side; Suffragan Bishop Kenneth Price of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio; the Rev. Thomas Kauffman, Ohio Conference minister of the Mennonite Church U.S.A.; and Assistant Bishop David Bowman of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio of Cleveland.
    James Tobin, a member of Ohioans to Stop Executions and an organizer of the event, said death penalty opponents expect to deliver the letter to a Taft representative early next week.