SCOTUS Denying Last Request Of Death-Row Inmate Whose Wish Is To Be Comforted By God When He Dies



Written By: Anton Sawyer


SCOTUS Denying Last Request Of Death-Row Inmate Whose Wish Is To Be Comforted By God When He Dies

Whenever I’m asked why I loathe Christianity so much, I’m always taken aback. Yes, I can understand that by having written previous articles with titles that compare Christianity to Satanism, along with a title like SCOTUS Texas Abortion Ruling: Ensuring Women Don't Forget Their Place In "Christian" America, someone who only looks at the titles and reads nothing in the articles could get the idea that I have some kind of hatred for Christ-based faiths.


Of course, anyone who has read those articles knows that I don’t have a hatred for faith itself and have written several times as well as to how key it is to the moral fiber of millions and that religion can be an overall good thing. It’s only until power and money become involved that the wheels on the bus fall off (round and round), and that’s what the article is about today.

"If you're asking whether I take my faith seriously and I'm a faithful Catholic, I am." She continued, "Although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge."
"If you're asking whether I take my faith seriously and I'm a faithful Catholic, I am." She continued, "Although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge."

 

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Recently the Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that the ability to practice the chosen faith of those who have been sentenced to die isn’t a guarantee—depending on your belief system. Just to make it clear, SCOTUS is doing everything they can to stop these religious rights … unless it’s for a Christian specifically (and even then, it isn’t guaranteed).


For anyone unaware, the story unfolds like this. In early November 2021, the Supreme Court listened to the case of Ramirez vs. Collier. At its heart, the entire case is predicated on the man being sentenced to death, John H Ramirez, wanting to have his pastor by his side to have God there while he takes his last breath. The Supreme Court has said that it will not happen. That by having his pastor Dana Moore by his side while he’s executed is going to cause more problems than it’s worth. Keep in mind this is coming from an incredibly (6-3) conservative court. A court where those with a religious bent have said time and time again that their faith is a keystone to who they are as a person but is always followed up with a statement that faith doesn’t impact their rulings. A good example comes from a 2020 quote by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. "If you're asking whether I take my faith seriously and I'm a faithful Catholic, I am." She continued, "Although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge."


As we know in politics, talk rarely means anything and you must look at the actions of those behind the words to see how far that person is really willing to go in the effort of keeping their beliefs out of their judging—and the Ramirez case is a good example.


The main argument against Ramirez having his Pastor present was brought about by the openly conservative/religious members of the court who worried about the competence to supervise execution protocols, to judge the sincerity of inmates’ religious convictions, to prevent litigation gamesmanship, and to handle what Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said could become “an unending stream” of lawsuits requesting all sorts of religious accommodations. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked about requests to have more than one spiritual adviser in the execution chamber and about last-minute conversions to new faiths. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh asked about a request for “bread and wine in the execution room.” Justice Alito worried that judges would be required “to go through the whole human anatomy” to decide where touching was permitted. Off-topic, but as someone who was a devout Mormon for several years, I can say with confidence that laying hands on the head of the person about to die would seem most in line with the teachings of Christ.


There were two main arguments brought up by Seth Kretzer, a lawyer for Ramirez, that were justified but completely ignored. The first argument from Kretzer came from when he said it was Texas’ protocol that was a moving target, as the state had allowed touching and audible prayer by spiritual advisers at 572 executions over four decades through 2019. Justice Kavanaugh said “that does not move me at all,” as the chaplains at those executions were prison employees and thus not a security risk. To which Mr. Kretzer responded that there was “not a single example in history” of a spiritual adviser interfering with an execution. This fact was also bolstered when Justice Elena Kagan asked Judd E. Stone II, Texas’ solicitor general if he was “aware in any other states of an execution going astray because of an outside spiritual adviser.” Mr. Stone said no.


It’s interesting because those SCOTUS members with an extremely open religious bent are trying to use the “slippery slope” argument against Ramirez’s spiritual requests—especially given that his religious beliefs are of a Christian nature. But this slippery slope thinking is to be expected when you have a whole slew of Americans who think that our entire judicial system and American way of life is based on precedent, standards, and specific ideologies. That by somehow allowing one inmate a religious privilege will swing open the doors to a litany of requests that will become more and more obscure until we are to the point of having a Satanic reverend administer some kind of nude woman-wine celebration in the name of the dark lord.


This need for Christian precedent and stability is nothing surprising given how many citizens of the US think that we are a Judeo-Christian nation specifically and therefore only those pre-ordained beliefs that have become the “national standard” should be represented; anything else would be blasphemous and would water-down the true potency of our national belief system. Yet, as we all know, there is no nationally recognized religion in the US. There’s no legal definition of what belief system is representative of our society as a whole. Often, some people forget this and try to engage me in some kind of ludicrous argument that we are a Judeo-Christian nation and because I disagree, I am either an idiot, or I hate America. The conversation usually goes like this—I’ve also included the caps lock that is always present in this kind of dialog.


Angry Person: We ARE a Judeo-Christian nation. This is why we have one nation under GOD. This is why we have a NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST. Just because you don’t believe in anything doesn’t mean this country doesn’t either. If you hate America that much, just get out.


Me: Actually, if you look at the early writings of the founding fathers, it seems their ideals were most in line with that of belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his teachings. If the original writings from the leaders of the 13 colonies were to be matched up with the FSM belief system, line for line, it almost mirrors the moral aptitude of the United States.


AP: THAT IS A LIE … (this is either followed by personal attacks predicated on someone “knowing” they are right).


Me: You know, you may have something there. Yet, since there has never been a religion that has been legislated into being the official American standard, the FSM belief is just as valid as Christianity, and neither is seen as being the only true one for all. In layman’s terms, Pastafarianism is just as “official” as Christianity when it comes to the representative faith of the US, legally speaking.


Anyone in charge that has a Christian bent will usually rely on some text or some thought that is shaky at best as a rebuttal. But that’s really the only way this dialog can occur because of many inherent hypocrisies found in organized religion. For religious hypocrisy to flourish, there are two key foundations to making it work. These are a combination of the blind following of a specific faith which is filled with arrogance predicated on knowing they have the ultimate power by having an infallible God on their side, along with the ability to be completely convinced and consumed by the thought that even removing one element of your faith is nothing short of an attempt to raze the entire belief system and bring about Sodom and Gomorrah Part 2.


ALL OR NONE BABY!


Even if these thought processes were accurate, even if allowing this convict access to his pastor at his time of death was a slippery slope it shouldn’t matter. Given we have no identifiably specific faith that our country hangs its hat on, the slope shouldn’t matter as all faiths should be allowed to be present in adding comfort to a person who is dying.


It’s this kind of fear (and lack of knowledge about America’s religious standing) that the Supreme Court is hedging on. Well, that fear and a complete lack of most people when it comes to the minutia of SCOTUS rulings and their hypocritical impact. Remember earlier when I said we need to base our thoughts on the actions (and not the words) of others?


In February 2021, SCOTUS listened to the arguments of an Alabama inmate named Willie B. Smith III who had a similar issue as the Ramirez case because Alabama had a law at the time excluding all spiritual advisers from the death chamber. The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Smith was NOT to be executed unless the state allowed his pastor to be present in the death chamber. This means that depending on the whims of the court, you may be able to have your spiritual advisor present during your execution … depending on how the court feels that day.


If these are the kinds of baffling and changing legal responses and justifications that we can expect from the Supreme Court of America when it comes to a belief system that they can agree with (Christian), then it’s looking to be a terrifying future for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to Judeo-Christian faiths. I know that with judges getting lifetime appointments, this could be a few very grim decades for most. We are looking at a court system that is so worried about any belief system disrupting the status quo that they are willing to let a man die without having the potential comfort of knowing his God is at his deathbed in some capacity … and this is a person who is on the same team.

 

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