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Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

Not All Choice is Free: Why demand religious exemption for contraception, but not the death penalty, torture, or unjust war?

By Louis A. Ruprecht, Religion Dispatches….
On November 2, 1984, Velma Barfield became the first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1962, and the first to be executed in the State of North Carolina after the nationwide moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in 1976. She was 52 years old. For those of us who had worked on her clemency petition, it was a devastating blow. Then-Governor Jim Hunt was running for a seat in the US Senate against arch-conservative Jesse Helms. Inexplicably, Barfield’s clemency hearing had been scheduled just six days prior to the election. Helms made it a campaign issue, of course, suggesting that, were the Governor to grant Barfield clemency, then his true liberal stripes would be clear to everyone.

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

TROY DAVIS, AFTER

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr., Georgia State University…..
At the same time that the US Supreme Court issued a second stay of execution in one week in the state of Texas, it permitted the execution of Troy Davis to go forward in the state of Georgia. And at 11:08pm on Wednesday, September 21st, some four hours after his scheduled 7:00pm execution time, Troy Davis was indeed killed by a state-administered lethal injection. The range of emotions and the swirl of debates generated by this confusing juxtaposition are layered and complex: a white Army recruiter accused of rape and murder is spared, at least for now, while a black man accused of killing a police officer is not. Both men insisted on their innocence throughout their circuit of appeals.

Religion In The Supreme Court (Part II)

Religion In The Supreme Court (Part II)

Since I wrote that article, President Obama has nominated current Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. If Kagan is confirmed by the Senate, she will be the eighth Jewish Justice and the third Jewish member of the current Court. Significantly, Kagan’s confirmation would bring with it something that has never occurred in the history of this country – a “Protestant-less” Court. Assuming Kagan is confirmed, the Court will soon be comprised of six Catholics and three Jews, religious groups that make up only around twenty four and two percent of the country’s population, respectively.

Religion In The Supreme Court (Part I)

Religion In The Supreme Court (Part I)

Many have called on President Obama to replace Justice Stevens with a fellow Protestant, thereby creating a so-called “Protestant seat,” to go along with the “African American seat” and the “Jewish seat” already in existence. There is a significant chance that Justice Stevens will be replaced with a non-Protestant, thereby creating a “Protestant-less” Supreme Court for the first time in American history. This is particularly striking considering that, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2007,