by Joe Schwartz
From Intern Jason Lee
The People of Faith Against the Death Penalty will begin a new major grassroots campaign Friday aimed at getting hundreds of resolutions in support from religious, business, community groups and local governments.
The Kairos Campaign, named after the Greek word meaning “special time,” will begin at 10 a.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin St., Raleigh. Eleven religious leaders from around the state will speak in support of ending the death penalty in North Carolina.
PFADP’s first major campaign began in 1999, and fought for a moratorium on the death penalty. The 10 year effort saw a number of reforms — including the Racial Justice Act, repealed by the legislature on Monday — but was ultimately unsuccessful in a moratorium. Now, says PFADP executive director Stephen Dear, the “tide is turning,” both nationally and in-state, against the death penalty, enough to call for its outright repeal.
While noting that each person has varied objections to the death penalty, Dear says that PFADP members oppose the death penalty based on their theological beliefs, which tell them that people should kill other people and neither should the state.
PFADP volunteers are drawn largely from religious communities, but reach out to people across religious, political and demographic spectrums. The 1999 campaign generated 50,000 signatures on a petition and more than 1,000 resolutions from statewide businesses, student groups and local governments.
Dear’s goals for the Kairos Campaign are at least as ambitious: at least 1,000 resolutions, and “tens of thousands of signatures, if not six figures.” He says the PFADP has already received 300 resolutions.
PFADP commits the campaign will continue as long as is needed.
“We have no illusions that the repeal will happen anytime soon,” Dear said. “But that’s not going to stop us from building a broad base of support that will change the debate over the death penalty in North Carolina.”