Moderator seeks clemency for US prisoner

The Moderator has sent a letter to President Donald Trump and US officials seeking clemency for prisoner Lisa Marie Montgomery, whose execution is scheduled for 12 January. It is customary for American presidents leaving office to grant a wide range of requests, from pardons and sentence commutations to pleas for clemency.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair

Writing on behalf of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair appeals to the president to stop the execution saying: "Please use your authority to commute her sentence to life imprisonment."

The Moderator explains that the Church of Scotland, along with Christians throughout the world, opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.

"The life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ affirms that capital punishment is always and wholly unacceptable," he writes. "It can never provide an answer even to the most heinous of crimes.

"The fundamental purpose of justice has to allow for redemption," he adds.

"Her case illustrates the wider deficiencies from a Christian standpoint about the use of capital punishment: its use as a deterrent is ineffective when people committing crimes are unable to comprehend the gravity of what they are doing."

If the execution goes ahead Ms Montgomery will be the first woman to be executed by the US federal government since 1953, the letter notes, adding that she has been diagnosed with congenital brain damage, multiple traumatic brain injuries and is herself a victim of incest, child sex trafficking, gang rape, physical abuse and neglect.

The Moderator goes on to appeal to the president's faith and asks him to take a compassionate approach aimed at achieving repentance, restitution and healing for both the individuals involved and our wider society.

"God calls us to be compassionate; our compassion should extend to victims, offenders and society itself," the Moderator writes. "This is, at times, hard to maintain, but compassion to society will entail finding the most appropriate ways of protecting it and healing its wounds.

"Inflicting more violence cannot be a part of that...

"I ask you to make a clear statement to your country and to the whole world that the love and forgiveness of God is not beyond the reach of any person and that no human being should have the power of death over another."

The plea was sent through online portals last Friday to President Donald J Trump, US Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson and Ms Ellen Wong, Principal Officer of the US Consulate General in Edinburgh.

Read the full letter (Pdf, file)