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Baptist editor calls for abolition of death penalty in Texas

Marv Knox

Marv Knox

A recent editorial in the Baptist Standard, The Texas Baptist Newsjournal, urges Gov. Rick Perry to place a moratorium on Texas executions and then asks that Texas lawmakers abolish the death penalty in their next session.

Written by Marv Knox, who earned a degree from Southern Seminary in Louisville and who edited the Western Recorder for five years, the May 11 editorial—“Pull the switch on the death penalty” —gives several reasons for eliminating the death penalty. Here are two:

First and foremost, the possibility—and almost certain likelihood—the state periodically executes innocent people should propel capital punishment beyond the pale of possibility. Dallas County leads the nation in proving wrongful convictions—30 in the last 11 years. Since we know the courts can make grievous mistakes, how can we say we value life and perpetuate a program that sometimes kills innocent people?

Eighth, it’s inconceivable Jesus would execute a criminal. As Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy says: “In the New Testament, the one place where Jesus talks about the death penalty, he says, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ When I’ve reflected on the death penalty, the reality is I frequently ponder that passage.”

On May 21, in his blog on FaithWorks, Knox highlights the new national database which “provides 2,000-plus reasons for abolishing the death penalty.” He refers to an AP story by Pete Yost that states:

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes have been exonerated in the United States in the past 23 years, according to a new archive compiled at two universities.

There is no official record-keeping system for exonerations of convicted criminals in the country, so academics set one up. The new national registry, or database, painstakingly assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete list of exonerations ever compiled.

Knox is right to call for abolition in Texas. And we need the same here in Kentucky. At least 12 former prisoners have now been exonerated and released. One death row inmate, Larry Osbourne, whose conviction was unanimously overturned by the Kentucky Supreme Court, was released after the jury in his second trial found him not guilty.

Here’s one more reason Knox gives in his plea for abolition:

Seventh, life in prison extends the opportunity for redemption. No, the salvation of a murderer does not bring the victim back to life. But it does restore one soul to eternal life. God’s grace can reach even the most wicked. And while wrongfully convicted inmates eventually may go free, you can’t resurrect the executed who were convicted falsely.

For more information about the registry visit

Photos: Courtesy The Baptist Standard

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