"Crumlin Road" by GrimsbyT / CC BY-SA 4.0

Christian or Nothing: Buddhist Prisoner to be Executed Without Buddhist Chaplain

Mar 29, 2019

By Andrew L. Seidel

It’s happening again.” American justice seems to favor Christians, everyone else be damned. Texas is set to execute Patrick Murphy, who became a Buddhist a decade ago, and the state gave Murphy a choice: he can have either “a Christian prison chaplain or no chaplain present.”

“Die with our god or die alone,” the Lone Star State appears to be saying. Murphy challenged this as a violation of his First Amendment right to religious freedom. He lost at the lower court and is set to be executed today. The appeal is pending.

Last month, the Supreme Court did the same thing, denying a Muslim man access to a Muslim cleric during his execution. Why? Because he waited too long to ask. We are in such a rush to kill prisoners that we cannot honor their constitutional right to religious liberty.

Pause to appreciate the hypocrisy here, which is at least threefold. First, if this were a Christian murderer to be executed, he’d have spiritual comfort. It’s only those pesky minority religions whose rights get trampled. Second, the courts are saying that keeping to a schedule is more important than our “first freedom”—at least when it comes to those of minority faiths. Finally, think of the Supreme Court’s other decisions involving religion and the government.

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