In an open letter on Tuesday to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Episcopal Bishop Rob Wright pleaded “one Christian to another” for Deal to halt all executions.
Bishop Wright issued the letter as Rober Wayne Holsey, the seventh prisoner to be executed during Deal’s tenure as governor, was within hours of being killed by lethal injection.
Bishop Wright has made a commitment to be present at every execution that happens in Georgia and said he issued the letter “in hopes that Gov. Deal and others might know that the murder they do is not in my name.”
Following is the full text of Bishop Wright’s letter:
An Open Letter to Governor Nathan Deal: From One Christian to Another
December 9, 2014
I hope this letter finds you well in this most holy season.
I am Robert Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and I serve 110 worshiping communities in Middle and North Georgia. Above all, like you, I strive to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Please know that in each of our congregations you are remembered and prayed for each week, both in English and in Spanish. I am proud of that fact.
I write to appeal to you as a Christian, who happens to be our Governor, rather than as a Governor who happens to be a Christian.
While many people support capital punishment, you and I know that Jesus never taught that we should murder a human being, no matter how heinous the crime.
Christians who tell you differently have made Jesus in their image and put their own words in His mouth. Maybe, most tragically, they have forgotten that Jesus himself was put to death by the State, in cooperation with fearful, religious people at the hand of an indifferent Governor.
Since you have been our Governor, seven human beings have been executed. You have condoned on seven different occasions the strapping of a person to a table, while chemicals were injected into his body until he was poisoned to death. All of this, while their relatives looked on.
The victims’ families endured this grotesque spectacle because of a terrible lie: The lie that revenge will somehow soothe their grief-stricken hearts. The lie that, by watching the person who killed their loved one suffer death, the scales of justice will be restored to balance. But vengeance doesn’t bring justice or balance, and neither does it bring peace or comfort.
Governor Deal, capital punishment is simply bloodlust. It is state-sanctioned mob violence and lynching, political expediency and tough-on-crime posturing. Capital punishment does not deter crime. Most importantly, you know it is not the will of God as revealed to us in the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.
Sir, in Christian brotherhood and all humility, I beg you to find courage in your faith, as a follower of Jesus, to end capital punishment in the State of Georgia immediately.
In this most holy season, when you and I and the vast number of Georgians celebrate the birth of Jesus—the love of God unique among us—I pray we might find room for Him and His teaching in the State of Georgia.
In Christian fellowship,
Robert C. Wright
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
2744 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30305