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Supreme Court: Clergy Should Be Allowed in Execution Chambers

Decision offers greater protections for chaplains and those providing prison ministry.

Supreme Court: Clergy Should Be Allowed in Execution Chambers
Image: Gwengoat | Getty

A prisoner scheduled to be executed in Texas requested that he be allowed to have his pastor present to provide “spiritual comfort and guidance in his final moments.” The state of Texas denied the request because it bars chaplains of any religion to enter an execution chamber.

After the denial by Texas, the prisoner sought legal relief for his request only to be denied by a federal district court and a court of appeals. The United States Supreme Court subsequently took up the case.

The Court, in an 8-1 majority, reversed the lower court decisions. Citing the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), it said the restrictions imposed by Texas were not based on “a compelling governmental interest.”

This article will explore the Court’s analysis, and the general implications of the decision for chaplains and prison ministries.

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Posted:
  • July 7, 2022

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