Ecumenical Statement by Oklahoma Churches on the Death Penalty 1990

by the Oklahoma Conference of Churches
September 7, 1990

WHEREAS our experience has shown that our mutual ministry can be a catalyst to bring people together and facilitate action which addresses issues and needs;

WHEREAS there are 115 persons on death row in Oklahoma, including several persons convicted for crimes committed before they were eighteen (18) years of age;

WHEREAS the State of Oklahoma has determined that the twenty-four year lapse in time since the last execution by the State will end on September 10, 1990, with the execution of Charles Troy Coleman;

WHEREAS the religious communities of the United States, including those which comprise the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, each reflecting on their religious traditions concerning the worth of human life and the dignity of the human person, have expressed their opposition to, or at least their questions about, the legitimacy of the death penalty;

WHEREAS the use of the death penalty obscures the issues concerning the causes of crime and distracts from efforts needed to find alternative ways to deal with crime;

WHEREAS the executions of persons for crimes committed before they were eighteen (18' years of age are contrary to Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and are particularly objectionable because they indicate a lack of belief in the potential for growth and repentance of young persons and;

WHEREAS Oklahoma has death penalty legislation which contains no minimum age;

Be it resolved that the Oklahoma Conference of Churches publicly oppose capital punishment in all cases;

Be it further resolved that as one concrete action to show its opposition to the death penalty, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches specifically opposes the imposition of the death penalty on persons convicted of crimes committed before they were eighteen (18) years of age and will work:

  1. For the inclusion in Oklahoma legislation of age eighteen (18) as a minimum age at the time of a crime for the death penalty to be a possibility.

  2. For the commutation by the Governor of death sentences, particularly those imposed in Oklahoma on persons who were under eighteen (18) years of age at the time of their crimes.

(The above resolution was reaffirmed by the Oklahoma Conference of Churches as revised at the meeting of the Board September 7, 1990.)