Why Does Emilie Townes Support This Initiative?

Emilie M. Townes is the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

She is the author of several books, including the groundbreaking work, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil (Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2006).  She is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman, a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the current president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

Dr. Townes writes:

I am not a pacifist.  I do not have that kind of emotional stamina but I abhor violence and try to live my life and convictions by respecting others and the creation in which we all have our being. Things like war are a signal that we have failed to respect one another’s humanity and have resorted to a brutal way to solve our differences.  When it comes to taking another life, I cannot find any emotional or religious justification that allows me to support the death penalty—particularly when its administration is so flawed in this country and in the state of Tennessee.  Until we eradicate the racial and economic bias in applying the death penalty and the execution of innocent people, we should not be a nation or a state that use the death penalty as a form of punishment—it is, in fact, a form of injustice.  I take seriously the admonition that “Thou shalt not kill,” and that God desires repentance from us and not vengeance.  Humanity must find a better way to deal with our moral failures.

To view the full list of signatories to our open letter to stop executions in Tennessee, click here.

If you are a student or educator in Tennessee, and you would like to add your signature to this open letter, click here.

If you are not student or educator in Tennessee, but you would like to support the open letter, please sign this petition.