Church leaders hold vigil against TN death penalty - WNEM TV 5

Church leaders hold vigil against TN death penalty

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A group of protesters voiced their opposition Tuesday to a new law on the electric chair in Tennessee.

Last week, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that allows inmates to be electrocuted if the drugs used for lethal injection are not available.

But a group of United Methodist Church leaders is calling on the governor and lawmakers to reconsider capital punishment altogether.

Members have signed an open letter from Bishop Bill McAlilly.

He writes, "capital punishment limits the opportunities for God to transform the convicted person and the victim's family through the power of forgiveness and reconciliation."

About 100 people gathered for a prayer vigil Tuesday on Legislative Plaza outside the state Capitol.

They say their main goal is to eliminate the death penalty in Tennessee, and they believe bringing back the electric chair is a step in the wrong direction.

"Every single life is sacred, no matter what somebody does, and we want our governor and legislators to know that any form of the death penalty is unacceptable," said the Rev. Matthew L. Kelley, pastor of Arlington United Methodist Church.

The new law goes into effect July 1. Tennessee currently has 73 men and one woman sentenced to death, and the last time Tennessee used the electric chair was in 2007.

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