Last Thursday on 24th March, Southern Baptists at national, state, and local levels praised the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of a Texas inmate’s who requested his pastor to lay hands on him before his execution.
His request was first rejected prison officials until it was challenged in the law court. The said inmate is called John Ramirez. Ramirez is scheduled to be executed through lethal injection but he wants final blessings from his pastor. This request was initially turned down.
He was convicted of murder in 2004. Looking at his religious beliefs, he has refused to keep mute while in the execution chamber. The court has supported Ramirez’s request calling it religious freedom.
In a bold attempt, he sued Texas prison officials for refusing to permit his pastor Dana Moore of Second Baptist Church in Corpus Christi to minister and pray for him before he takes his last breath. He believes a touch from his pastor would be a blessing for him.
According to reports, In an 8-1 opinion, the high court said John Ramirez, “is likely to succeed in showing [the state’s] policy substantially burdens his exercise of religion.”
The high court in its opinion led by Chief Justice John Roberts declared:
“This is a significant affirmation of religious liberty,” said Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “The Supreme Court affirmed that religious freedom does not end at the execution chamber door.
“In the majority opinion, the court provided significant guidance about how this case should be handled moving forward,” Leatherwood said in an ERLC news release. “The state of Texas should accommodate Mr. Ramirez’s sincere requests based on his religious beliefs and allow Pastor Moore … to minister to Mr. Ramirez in his final solemn moments of life.”
Ramirez’s pastor, Dana Moore said this is a win for religious freedom. There shouldn’t be any hindrance for an inmate to enjoy his religious freedom in the execution chamber.
His execution date is likely to be rescheduled due to the confrontations and other legal issues associated with it.
Pastor Moore is hopeful he would be able to touch Ramirez and pray for him aloud when the execution date is rescheduled.
The Bible teaches that if a sinner repents wholeheartedly and receives Jesus Christ as his Savior he would have eternal life. This reflects Ramirez’s situation of seeking salvation even if he dies today.
The High court has been praised for ruling in support of Ramirez and his pastor. Other human rights and religious activists have been very happy about the court’s ruling.