On February 7, 2019, the State of Alabama executed Domineque Ray, a Muslim man whose request to have an imam present at his execution was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, on February 8, 2019, issued a statement, which reads:
“The execution of Domineque Ray deeply troubles us. The death penalty itself is an affront to human dignity, and the Church has long called for its abolition in the United States and around the world. Mr. Ray bore the further indignity of being refused spiritual care in his last moments of life, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Alabama law. This unjust treatment is disturbing to people of all faiths, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or otherwise. People deserve to be accompanied in death by someone who shares their faith. It is especially important that we respect this right for religious minorities. As Pope Francis said during his recent trip to the United Arab Emirates, ‘What we are called to do as believers is to commit ourselves to the equal dignity of all.’ Let us make this commitment today.”
Ray had been convicted 20 years for rape and murder and had exhausted a variety of appeals.