T.D. Jakes, Religious Leaders, See Troy Davis Execution as Tragedy

Troy Davis supporters
Daniel Hanley throws his fist in the air as others shout slogans in Atlanta on Monday. Members of the Free Troy Davis Committee and the Campaign to End the Death Penalty joined in an overnight vigil in front of the State Board of Pardons and Parole Monday morning. (AP Images/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Spink)

In the final hours leading up to Troy Davis' execution, people of faith and religious leaders are expressing sorrow that Davis, 42, lost his final plea for clemency from the Georgia Board of Pardons & Parole on Tuesday. Many have promised to continue praying that the convicted murderer's life will be spared.

In 1991, Davis was convicted of the 1988 murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail. Although seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimonies, his lethal injection is scheduled for 7 p.m. E.T. Wednesday. The Associated Press reports that Attorney Stephen Marsh says the Georgia Department of Corrections also denied his request to allow Davis to take a polygraph test.

The case has garnered international attention, with Davis' supporters including Former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. These and others have asked that the execution be stopped, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Bishop T.D. Jakes tweeted: “Praying for the family and friends of Troy Davis! Such a tragedy!!”

According to The Washington Post, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, Rev. Bernice King, also supports Davis. In a letter to the parole board, she said she echoes “the cries of hundreds of thousands of others in asking your distinguished body to grant Troy Anthony Davis clemency and commute his sentence.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights activist, also showed support for Davis. “I was just notified that clemency was denied Troy Davis. This is the most blatant example of injustice I have seen in years. This is WRONG,” he tweeted Monday morning. Sharpton has also tweeted that he flew to Atlanta for Davis' Justice Virgil in Jackson, Ga.

Frank Reid III, senior pastor of Bethel A.M. E Church in Baltimore, tweeted: “The pending execution of Troy Davis is ungodly. What can we do to stop it?”

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty (PFADP), a nonprofit interfaith organization, presented the Georgia parole board a collection of signatures of 3,500 faith leaders on the letter for clemency for Davis.

“We are incredulous that the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis today. But the fight for Troy's life is not over,” PFADP said in a statement.

The Washington Post reports that by mid-afternoon Monday, supporters said they had collected almost 1 million petition signatures seeking clemency. USA Today reported that 660,000 petitions were delivered to the state board Friday.

National leaders of the NAACP and Amnesty International led hundreds in a protest Friday against Davis' execution. According to the AJC, “Amnesty International declared a Global Day of Solidarity for Troy Davis, with 300 events across the United States and the globe, including in New York, Washington D.C., San Diego, Paris and Oslo.”

Supporters carried signs that said “stop the execution” and wore T-shirts that read “I am Troy Davis.”

His sister, Kimberly Davis, said Troy Davis was elated with the support he has gotten.

“Wow,” was his reaction, Davis told the AJC. “He didn’t know he had that many supporters. He feels his voice is finally being heard.”

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