PFADP Statement on Nebraska Victory PDF Print E-mail


May 27, 2015 -- The following is People of Faith Against the Death Penalty's statement following the Nebraska Senate voting to override NE Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of its passage of a bill to repeal the death penalty.

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty celebrates Nebraska’s unicameral legislature this afternoon in overriding Gov. Ricketts' veto of the repeal bill by a vote of 30-19.

"This victory is the most significant leap forward for the abolition movement perhaps ever in the modern era," said PFADP Executive Director Stephen Dear. "A conservative state with a conservative legislature has decided the death penalty is harmful to its future and not in accord with its values."

"This changes the landscape."

"This vote represents a tectonic shift of our country with its epicenter in Lincoln, Nebraska," Dear said.

"It is no longer conservative to support the death penalty – it’s just outdated. The legislators in Nebraska voted their consciences. They voted their values. They value life and creation and justice for all and recognize that the death penalty is, in fact, contrary to these values."

Congratulations to Nebraskan for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Equal Justice USA, and all of the organizations and people who built the momentum for this enormous victory. Special thanks to all of the religious leaders who spoke up for repeal.

With today’s vote, 35 of the 53 death penalty jurisdictions in the United States (50 states, the District of Columbia, the federal government, and the military) either do not have the death penalty or have not carried out an execution in at least five years.

What’s next?

The death penalty won’t go away in the rest of the country by itself.

For people of faith, our work is now. Religious leaders and communities played an important role in the Nebraska victory, as they have in every abolition victory. The time is now for people of faith to use the resources of their faith communities to educate and mobilize them for abolition, to join and support their state campaigns for abolition, and to help PFADP build the momentum for a future unbound by the death penalty.

Since the 1950s America’s largest faith communities have been calling for abolition. That steadfastness is bearing fruit. Let us hold fast in the struggle and the faith and continue to expand the cirlce of abolitionists.
Death Penalty Opposition Intensifies PDF Print E-mail

Death Penalty Opposition Intensifies

From the National Catholic Reporter: "Catholics, fellow Christians, Pope Francis and even pharmacists intensified opposition to the death penalty as Easter approached and the U.S. Supreme Court moved closer to reviewing the legality of lethal injections in late April.

In a March 31 statement directed at politicians and others in criminal justice sectors, nearly 400 Catholic and evangelical leaders said the occasion of Holy Week prompted them to 'speak out with renewed urgency against the death penalty.'"

Read the whole article here.
Kelly Gissendaner PDF Print E-mail

Religious Leaders Rally for Kelly Gissendaner

ATLANTA, March 2, 2015 - This morning in Atlanta clergy delivered more than 50,000 petition signatures for mercy for Kelly Gissendaner, who is scheduled for execution this evening at 7 pm in Georgia.

About 500 Georgia faith leaders have signed a letter for mercy.

PFADP encourages everyone to sign the petitions and stay involved with PFADP and state and national abolition groups in ending the death penalty once and for all.

Sign the GA faith leaders letter here:

Sign the Groundswell petition here:

Related articles:

New York Times: "A Death Row Inmate Finds Common Ground With Theologians"

NBC News: "Kelly Gissendaner Presses Last-Ditch Appeals Before Georgia Execution"
Christian ethicist David Gushee has written an open letter to Georgia Christians, "Killing Kelly."

Catholic theologian Tobias Winright has written an open letter to Georgia's governor and parole board.
A Message from Our Executive Director - December 30, 2014 PDF Print E-mail

Thanks to You!

Dear friend,

Last month in a banquet hall full of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty's supporters we celebrated our 20th year of witness and organizing for unbinding our country from the death penalty. Sr. Helen Prejean, legislative and community leaders, faith leaders from several states, death row exonerees, long-time advocates, and actress Susan Sarandon via video joined us in celebrating PFADP being able to make a difference towards abolition.

This is a time of great hope for abolishing the death penalty. We fully expect that in another 20 years the death penalty will be a memory, a cautionary tale.

Thanks to you.

To help get us there we are continuing to till the soil for abolition, to organize, advocate, train, and expand our circle of abolitionists.

To do that we need you to continue your support. Please give a generous year-end, tax-deductible donation right now here:

Please consider making a monthly, recurring, tax-deductible donation to PFADP to sustain our work. You can also mail checks to the address below.

Thank you. May the year ahead for you and all of us bring us closer to a world where the strength of love and compassion binds us for our journey together.


Steve Dear

Executive Director

P.S. Got a question? Got an idea or suggestion? Let's talk! Call us at (919) 933-7567 or email me at sdear (at)

What Dean Smith Did on the Death Penalty: Everything We Asked of Him PDF Print E-mail

Thank You, Coach Smith, for Answering the Call

He always answered our calls.

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty joins millions of people across the country in mourning the loss of our friend, former UNC Men's Basketball Coach Dean Smith, who passed away Saturday, Feburary 7, 2015.

In 1998 Coach Smith joined a PFADP delegation of clergy in a clemency hearing for John Noland, whom Coach Smith had befriended years earlier when he brought his players on the UNC Men's Basketball team to visit the men on death row. Subsequent to that clemency hearing a family who had lost a member to murder volunteered and created a 24-foot banner for PFADP quoting what Coach Smith told Gov. Jim Hunt. Before the meeting Coach Smith offered to lead off the discussion. He did not tell us what he planned to say.

"You're a murderer!" he told the governor, pointing his finger at him.

"And you're a murderer! And you're a murderer! And I'm a murderer!" he said, pointing at PFADP's executive director and the gathered pastors, ending with his finger pointed at himself.

"The death penalty makes us all murderers."

In the mid-1990s, at the height of death sentencing rates in North Carolina, Coach Smith was the first to sign Rev. Robert Seymour and PFADP's letter signed by prominent North Carolinians for abolition of the death penalty. He wrote personal notes to accompany letters we drafted for his signature to dozens of state senators and representatives encouraging their support for a moratorium on executions.

He recorded a message for PFADP in support of a moratorium on executions that played on telephones in 10,000 North Carolina homes. (He changed the scripted message to begin with, "This is Coach Dean Smith. I'm sorry to bother you....") He was the first to sign our letter for a moratorium on executions also signed by basketball coaches Bill Guthridge (UNC), Skip Prosser (Wake Forest) and Herb Sendek (NC State).

He supported PFADP. He donated autographed items for us to auction and raise money. He served on our Board of Advisors. In 2009, Coach Smith's daughter, Kristen, joined PFADP on staff.

Indeed, Dean Smith always answered our calls. Grounded in his Christian faith and the community of Binkley Baptist Church, he answered the call we all feel to work for abolition. He was always so humble and kind towards us.

He was a fellow activist for abolition.

Our organization will do our best to honor Dean Smith's witness.

When North Carolina and the rest of the United States abolish the death penalty it will be another victory in which this exemplary human being can share.
NC Repeal Campaign Update PDF Print E-mail

Town of Winfall, NC Becomes First

Town in Eastern North Carolina 
to Call for

Repeal of Death Penalty

Below is the text of PFADP's press release released May 14, 2014.

May 12, 2014 — The Town of Winfall, NC is now the first local government in Eastern North Carolina to call on the state to repeal the death penalty.

On Monday night the Winfall Town Council voted to endorse a resolution calling on North Carolina to repeal the death penalty and use some of the money the state would save to create a new program to help murder victims' family members.

Winfall is now the sixth local government in the state to call for ending the death penalty. The others are Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, and Orange County.

The nonprofit group People of Faith Against the Death Penalty asked Winfall's Town

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