Texas Bans Spiritual Advisors from Death Chambers after New Court Order

Texas Bans Spiritual AdvisorsUpdated 3:30 PM ET, Wed April 3, 2019

It has been declared that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will bar ministers, chaplains, and spiritual advisers from execution chambers because of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week due to an incident which involved the execution of an inmate who requested to have his Buddhist spiritual adviser present in the death chamber with him.

The justices agreed to delay the execution of Patrick Henry Murphy’s. However, weeks before the controversy, the judges denied a similar request made from an inmate in the state of Alabama.

The state denied Murphy’s initial request the state because officials said it was a security protocol that only employees were only allowed inside the chamber, and that only employed Christian and Muslim advisors were allowed inside.

Murphy’s lawyers have challenged this policy, arguing that it had violated Murphy’s religious liberty rights. This led to the Supreme Court postponing the execution.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the state declared that “Effective Immediately,” the protocol will now only allow security personnel in the chamber of execution.

“Chaplains and Ministers/Spiritual Advisors designated by the offender may observe the execution only from the witness rooms,” the state says.

During the time the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Murphy, Associate Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, expressed his thoughts on the brief order. He mentioned that the government “may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations.”

Kavanaugh also mentioned that states had two options moving forward: allow all inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion present in the execution room or allow inmates to have a spiritual adviser, including a state-employed chaplain, only in the viewing room, not the execution room.

“What the State may not do, in my view, is allow Christian or Muslim inmates but not Buddhist inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room,” he wrote.

As of today, Murphy’s execution hasn’t been rescheduled.