Tag Archives: Death-Penalty

Murderers! And The Lives They Live

There was quite a bit of conversation last week after I posted about the benevolent act of Philip Workman, a man executed in Tennessee last week for murder. The initial comments put me deep in thought and I’ve been trying to think through my values and ethics and trying to make sure I’m not holding double standards. This is not a direct response to those comments, but it was provoked by those thoughts. Today, I simply wanted to write a brief devotional thoughts post about some of the heroes of the Christian faith.

Moses seemed to often be in the right place at the right time. As a baby, when his fellow Hebrew tots were being killed off, Moses managed to get in with Pharaoh’s family and grow up as royalty. Then he grew up, learned a bit about his history, and in a moment of zeal kills a guy. He lives as a fugitive in the desert for about forty years and then goes on to lead one of the greatest freedom movements of ancient times, the exodus of the Jewish people out of Egypt. Moses was a murderer, though never captured and convicted, and he then went on to be a famous leader and a pillar of the Jewish and Christian faith.

David is the original Cinderalla-story: Shepard boy becomes Israel’s great King. Every kid in a church grows up hearing about how David slays Goliath. And we don’t really see it as murder, it’s the epic good vs. evil story, redemptive violence at its finest. So, most wouldn’t agree that David qualifies as a murderer for that. But the other story we don’t teach many kids in church, is about David committing adultery and then having a man killed to protect his crime. And as repentant as David might have been, David was a murderer. David even recommended the death penalty for a person who committed a crime such as his, but the sentence was never carried out. David is remembered as one of Israel’s Greatest Kings, which seems to overshadow his death-deserving crime.

Paul is, next to Jesus, probably the most influential forefather of the Christian faith. The guy wrote half the New Testament, established churches all over the Roman Empire and was a martyr for the faith. Paul was so special, Jesus even paid him a special visit after he’d already ascended to heaven. By his own admission Paul was a murderer of Christian’s prior to becoming one himself. The fact that Paul’s murderous campaigns were one of the greatest original threats to Christianity does not seem to phase us now as we lift him up as one of the founding pillars of our faith.

Jesus himself was more or less a fugitive for part of his three years of ministry. He constantly avoided certain areas and had to duck away from persecuting crowds (how he managed that is a mystery to me). And Jesus, who maintained his innocence until the very end received the death penalty.

The point of this short run down of Biblical figures was not to make a statement that murder is okay, by no means do I think killing someone is ever a good idea. It was a chance however to reflect on how four of the greatest figures in the Bible were or were treated as criminals, and yet we are able to look through that, around it, in spite of it and see the great good that was accomplished through them as well. I have the great honor to work with many youth who in their own moments have made grave mistakes and they are paying a price for that. However, I would hope I, and no one else, ever stamps a permanent label on them that keeps them from having a second chance and keeps others from recognizing each benevolent act that they make. Here’s to every murderer who has turned their life around and contributed to the well being of humanity, I applaud you.

10 Things You Can Do To Help End Tennessee’s Death Penalty

Despite clear and convincing evidence that Philip Workman did not fire the bullet that killed Lt. Ronald Oliver, Workman was executed early yesterday morning. In the end, the courts rejected Workman’s challenge to Tennessee’s new execution protocols and Workman went to his death without the full facts of the case ever being given a full and fair hearing. Any argument that Tennesseans can rely on the capital punishment system to provide fair, just, and accurate outcomes died with Workman at 1:38 am yesterday morning. Not content with executing Workman, the Attorney General’s office has requested that execution dates be set for the four men whose executions were stayed during the Governor’s 90-day moratorium, E.J. Harbison, Pervis Payne, Mika’eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad, and Daryl Holton. These men could face execution in as little as a week. But now, even as we mourn, this is the time to rededicate ourselves to bringing an end, once and for all, to executions in our state. Changes are made by ordinary people taking small tasks upon themselves to achieve great things. So choose one (or even two or three) of the actions below and help our state move away from vengeance, violence, and killing.

1. Attend your local TCASK Chapter meeting or contact the state office to start a local chapter

2. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about why Tennessee doesn’t need the death penalty

3. Get a friend to sign up for the TCASK mailing list

4. Write to your state representatives about why you oppose the death penalty

5. Gather moratorium petitions from 5 small businesses and organizations in your neighborhood

6. Talk to you pastor about engaging your church in the death penalty issue

7. Host a house party

8. Volunteer in the TCASK office

9. Bring a TCASK skills training (public speaking, lobbying, or strategic planning) to your local group

10. Make a donation to TCASK – it’s easy just click here.

I would also recommend you subscribe to the TCASK blog or newsletter yourself if you haven’t already.

Pizza, Brought to you by a Dead Man

Philip Workman was executed by lethal injection at 1am Wednesday night. His request for his last meal was that a pizza be given to a homeless person near the prison. That request was not honored by the prison officials who claimed they don’t do that sort of thing.

A day later though, his request was honored by many others, and many of those without homes in Nashville ate delicious pizza, inspired by a man whose last request was a benevolent act be done on his behalf.

From CNN:

Donna Spangler heard about Workman’s request and immediately called her friends. They all pitched in for the $1,200 bill to buy 150 pizzas, which they sent to the Rescue Mission.

“Philip Workman was trying to do a good deed and no one would help him,” said the 55-year-old who recruited a co-worker to help her make the massive delivery Wednesday evening.

“I knew my husband would have a heart attack — I put some of it on the credit card. But I thought we’ll find a way to pay for them later,” she said. “I just felt like I had to do something positive.”

Spangler wasn’t the only person to place an order in Workman’s name.

The president of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals read a news story about the prison denying the inmate’s last request and ordered 15 veggie pizzas sent to the Rescue Mission Wednesday morning.

“Workman’s act was selfless, and kindness to all living beings is a virtue,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.

Not far away, 17 pizzas arrived at Nashville’s Oasis Center, a shelter that helps about 260 teenagers in crisis. By 9 p.m. ET, more pizzas had arrived, said executive director Hal Cato.

“We talked to the kids and they understand what this is tied to and they know that this man [Workman] wanted to do something to point out the problems of homelessness.”

When Workman robbed a Wendy’s in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1981, he was a strung-out cocaine addict looking for a way to pay for his next high, he has said.

He was homeless at the time. Workman was convicted of s

Here’s to you Philip Workman, may my last request be half as noble.

I Do Not Believe In Homicide

Governor Bredesen,

I do not believe that under any circumstances homicide is acceptable.
It has come to my attention that “The death certificate of an executed person lists the cause of death as homicide.” I, as a citizen of Nashville and the state of Tennessee, can not stand silently by and allow homicide to go on, sanctioned by the state, especially in a situation were the person, Philip Workman, is possibly innocent.

I ask that you please grant Clemency to Philip Workman, or at least continue the moratorium until further investigation can be made.

Thank You for your time and wisdom in this decision.

Ariah Fine

Above is the email I sent to Governor Phil Bredesen, something you should take a moment to do yourself.

If you live in the state of Tennessee, I encourage you to take sometime to listen to and read the story and information concerning Philip Workman and the death penalty. TCASK is a great blog to start with.

Below is an 11 minute video concerning Philip Workman, including testimony of his victim’s daughter, a juror, and the perjured eye witness.