The Impending Execution of Paul Hill
[cir. July, 1997]
The Impending Execution of Paul Hill
It has been a fairly uneventful summer. There was a brief flurry of abortuary destruction in the early part of the year (bringing joy to the hearts of those who pray for spiritual revival). But things are relatively calm on the streets where ex-utero people live and move and have their being. And D.C., the murder capital of the country, has seen a decrease in crime. “May’s statistics are 45 percent lower than May of last year and crime has been consistently lower for the past 14 months by an average of 20-25 percent” (Washington Times, 9 July, 1997).
This kind of peace is good for those of us who are actively pursuing our vacation time. We don’t want folks performing drive-by shootings as we tour the Capital City or any other blood soaked American town. Indeed, as I take my children to swim team or wrestling practice or to a friend’s house to play, I am glad that the judgment of God is, for some reason, held in abeyance. There is no blood-letting in the streets yet, like, say, Jerusalem or Ulster or any number towns in Rwanda or Liberia. And aren’t we glad?
But it is bothersome to be reminded of the call God has placed upon the lives of others. Paul Hill has been sentenced to death. Apparently he was “called” (as by God) to the sacrificial, public witness he made. And we are reminded that the hand of God sometimes falls hard upon us; He is, indeed, both good and severe (Rom. 11:22). How good He was to the innocents whom He moved Paul to defend and to us who have been encouraged by his courage and obedience. And yet, how severe He is toward the Hill family – depriving children and wife of a father and husband. Yes, we are reminded that God doesn’t mess around. He is serious; he is severe. And these truths about our God are not happily recalled. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an awesome and holy and everliving God.
Paul’s public witness was one which not only testified to the humanity of the child in the womb and to the love we are to show our neighbors who are being delivered over to death; his deed was also a testimony against the judges of the land. Yes, he displayed the judgment which every prosecutor and judge ought to be processing against all the childkillers from Atlantic to Pacific.
Paul Hill was called to abort the abortionist, and his wife and children were called to suffer the loss of husband and father for righteousness sake. Most of us have other callings, theoretically. And each is to employ his gift and answer his divine vocation in obedience to Christ and His word before all powers and authorities.
Presumably, the Almighty has given some of us the less glorious task (as it may viewed from enlightened historians some time in the future) of lobbying for the welfare of those martyrs who have put their immediate comfort, yea their very lives, in jeopardy for mercy sake. But if that be our task, we must be about it. We must demand; we must warn; we must exhort; we must importune; we must plead with the powers that are. A righteous man, our brother in the Faith, has been sentenced to die for doing justice and showing mercy. He is to be executed for obedience to our Lord who calls us to defend the orphan; who calls us to do no murder, but to defend the innocent. And his blood will be upon those authorities which participate in this unjust execution.
It is our duty at this hour to write to the Florida State Office of Executive Clemency. Here is a summary of Paul Hill’s post-sentence subjudice history:
31 May, 1996 Oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court
27 Nov., 1996 Florida Supreme Court affirms Paul’s convictions and death sentences
6 Mar., 1997 Florida Supreme Court denies motion for rehearing of decision
March, 1997 Paul officially waives his right to participate in post-conviction proceedings
15 May, 1997 Paul’s case enters into final stage: clemency proceedings
Governor Lawton Chiles and his Cabinet compose the Clemency Board. The Office of Executive Clemency was created to help carry out this executive power. An attorney is appointed to file a petition for clemency on Paul’s behalf by mid-August.
Letters from interested citizens must be filed by 9 August. To do this eight (8) copies must be sent to:
Janet H. Keels, Coordinator
Office of Executive Clemency
2601 Blairstone Road
Building C, Room 229
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2450
Letters must refer to “Paul Jennings Hill”; case #94-3510; inmate #459364. The eight copies will be distributed to the members of the Clemency Board. Any member of the eight-man Board can request a hearing on Paul’s case so that the Board can consider extending clemency to Paul.
The very idea of clemency for Paul may be offensive to some of you; we think of clemency as mercy given to a wrongdoer. And as we acknowledge no wrong in Paul’s service, clemency is an inaccurate word to describe the relief that we seek. (It is for these reasons, I am confident, that Paul has had no zeal to pursue pardons. To seek pardon is – even if only implicitly – to admit wrongdoing. He will have nothing to do with such falsehood.)
But it is Paul Hill who has made of himself and excellent sacrifice. We can sully ourselves by asking rulers to extend mercy as they understand it even when we know we ought to ask as well that they repent and award him honors. We can humbly plead for his life. We can implore the powers to show mercy, even if they are confused and exchange the truth for a lie. Speak to them in their own language. They think Paul a sinner and a murderer. Bid them to extend mercy to the poor benighted wretch who still thinks children are created by God in His image.
Finally, brothers and sisters, if you could do us the kindness of sending a ninth copy of your letter to us, we would be grateful.
May our Lord, who is rich in mercy, grant you time and zeal to write requests for our brother’s life.