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Faith leaders urge Montana to abolish death penalty
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Faith leaders urge Montana to abolish death penalty

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To our fellow Montanans:

We, the undersigned faith leaders in Montana, prayerfully request that the Montana Legislature vote to abolish the death penalty in Montana.

There will be much testimony for and against the abolition of the death penalty. You'll hear financial arguments, logistical arguments, statistical arguments. You will hear of people wrongfully accused and later exonerated. You will hear of families devastated — families of victims and families of the convicted. You will hear about deterrence and closure. You will hear arguments from both sides on all these topics and more.

Our argument is a moral one. The death penalty is immoral. No crime justifies the taking of another life by the state. Our religious traditions have prohibitions against murder. People do unspeakably terrible things to one another, and the state is obligated to take action, to impose justice. But violence by an individual never justifies the use of violence by the state. Two wrongs do not make a right. Killing someone to teach others not to kill is illogical. It does not bring back the dead.

The role of government is to protect people and insure safety and justice. It is not to exact revenge. "Vengeance is mine," says the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:35.)

Once capital punishment was standard across much of the globe. But civilization has advanced, and now the United States is the only modern democracy in which capital punishment is still legal. This puts us in the company of brutal regimes.

As people of faith, we consider the abolition of the death penalty as a moral imperative. The death penalty is irreversible, and does not bring back victims. It only perpetrates more violence in the name of justice. As people of faith, as citizens of Montana we say, "Not in our name."

We urge you to vote to abolish the death penalty in Montana. We are praying for you and for everyone affected by this action, including victims and families.

In peace and hope,

This opinion is signed by the following Montanans: 

Jessica Crist, retired bishop, Great Falls

Rabbi Laurie Franklin, Missoula

Rev. John Lund, Missoula

Rev. Jayson Nicholson, Laurel

Jasmine Krotkov, Neihart

Pamela Sue Carroll, Great Falls

Judy Visscher, M.D., Missoula

Jo Anne Troxel, Bozeman

Lucretia Humphrey, Great Falls

Gordon Whirry, Great Falls

Faye Boom, Bozeman

Rev. Robin Biffle, Helena

Noorjahan Parwana, Butte

Kristin Anne Freeman, Missoula

James Smith, Helena

Avis R. Anderson, Glendive

Peter Husby, Belgrade

Jim Barngrover, Helena

Pr. Christine Holler-Dinsmore, Wolf Point

Paula Evitts, Great Falls

Rose Brock, Butte

Kaylie Ines, intern pastor, Missoula

Marianne Schappek, Butte

Margarita McLarty, Livingston

Donald S. McLarty, Livingston

Loretta J. Stiffler, Butte

Rita Jankowski-Bradley, Missoula

The Rev. Roxanne Klingensmith,, Bozeman

Gretchen Woodhull, Bozeman

Michael Lobo, Bozeman

Jean Hand Triol, Kalispell

Fernanda, Missoula

Linda Borton, Butte

Patricia A Hogan, Missoula

Susan Wadsworth, Red Lodge

Rev. Jayson Nicholson, Laurel

Claire Leonard, Virginia City

Ruth K. Dargis, Livingston

Denise Fisher, Livingston

Rita Kohut, Great Falls

Jo Ann Kidder, Missoula

Fr. James J. Hogan, Missoula

Julia Shaida, Bozeman

Patricia Simmons, Bozeman

Abess Judith Ann Crosby OSC, Great Falls

Sister Jane Sorenson, Great Falls

Betsy Mulligan-Dague, Missoula

Rev. Eric Strader, Bozeman

Rev. William Sappington, Billings

Barbara Gulick, Billings

Rev. Duffy Peet, Bozeman

Karen Virginia Frank-Plumlee, Lincoln

Rev. Robin Biffle, Helena

Nancy Menning, Missoula

Rev. Margaret Gillikin, Helena

Jean Collins, Lewistown

Reverend Robyn Morrison, Helena

Sr Kathleen Hanley, Billings

Steven D McArthur, Missoula

Rev. Susan DeBree, Helena

Kim Yaged, Missoula

Rev. Derf Bergman, St. Ignatius

Rev. Daniel Disch, Missoula

Linnea M. Wang, Bozeman

Salim Matt Gras, Missoula

Donna Williams, Great Falls

Tina Visscher, Bozeman

Rev. Dawn Skerritt, Great Falls

Rev. John Daniels, Missoula

Susan Duncan, Helena

Rev. Jean Larson, Missoula

David Hemion, Montana City

Eric J. Thorson, Billings

Dorothy Starshine, Great Falls

Rev. Gregory V. Holler-Dinsmore, Wolf Point

Rev. Kendra Wilde Helena

Rabbi Francine Roston, Whitefish

Judy Visscher, M.D., Missoula

Rai Combs, Missoula

Rev. Stephen Van Gilder, Great Falls

JoAnn Hanson, Helena

Rev. Peter Erickson, Columbia Falls

Claudia L. Davis, Helena

Paula Evitts, Great Falls

Fr. Charlie Knuth, Columbia Falls/Whitefish

Rev. Megan Hoewisch, Havre

Rev. Lisa K Harmon, Billings

Rev. Stacey Heggem, Winifred

Rev John Daniels, Missoula

Rev. Laura Folkwein, MSW, Missoula

Rev. Peter Shober, Missoula

Rita Wells, Billings

Bishop Michael W. Warfel, Great Falls

Ann Schoch, Billings

Most Reverend Austin A. Vetter, Bishop, Helena

Tim Holmes, Helena

Terri Reavley, Great Falls

Rev. Barbara Archer, retired, Billings

Sr. Marya Grathwohl, Billings

Linda Nelson, Billings

Rev. Brent Long, Billings

Rabbi Uri N Barnea, retired, Billings

Rev. Dee Anna, retired, Boulder

Chancellor Darren Eultgen, Great Falls

Fr. David Wilkins, Fort Shaw

Rev Val Zdilla, Bozeman

Rev. Sarah Merchant, Stevensville

Reverend Daniel M Dixson, M.Div, BCC, CT, Missoula

Fr. Robert D. Grosch, Billings

Chancellor Jeffrey M. Fleming, Helena

Lorca C Smetana, Bozeman

The Rev. Barry Padget, Missoula

Jeanne Tranel, Billings

Fr. Jose Valliparambil, Glasgow

Fr. Kenneth Fortney, Whitefish

Rev. Jay H. Peterson, Great Falls

Fr. Xavier Arimboor, Great Falls

Rev. Marlow Carrels, Butte

Fr. C. Hightower, SJ Missoula, St. Ignatius

Fr. David Reichling, Billings

The Reverend Jon R. Wallace, Plains

Rev. Domenico Pizzonia, Stanford

Joan R Higgins-Smith, Clancy

Rev. Daniel W Viehland, Townsend

Sandra Jankowski, Helena

Patricia Callaghan, Butte

Steve McArthur, Missoula

Rev. Sarah Clark, Billings

Joseph Harrington, Helena

Rev. Tyler Amundson Billings

Rev. Linda Fritz, Three Forks

Richard Francesco, Helena

Sharon M. Anderson, Great Falls

Reverend Barbara C. Gwynn, Great Falls

Rev. Waveland King Superior, Alberton

Rev. William A Dornbos, Butte

John N Coffman, Billings

David Anderson, Plentywood

Paula Evitts, Great Falls

William Mario Frigo, Crow Agency

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