Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sister Helen Prejean: Does Truth Matter?

Sister Helen Prejean: Does Truth Matter?:
Dead Man Walking & The Death Penalty
Dudley Sharp, independent researcher, death penalty expert, former opponent, 832-439-2113, CV at bottom
1) The parents of rape/torture/murder victim Loretta Bourque, a "Dead Man Walking" Case

" . . .makes you realize the Dead Man Walking truly belongs on the shelf in the library in the Fiction category."

"Being devout Catholics, 'the norm' would be to look to the church for support and healing. Again, this need for spiritual stability was stolen by Sister Prejean." (1)

“On November 5, 1977, the Bourque’s teenage daughter, Loretta, was found murdered in a  trash pile near the city of New Iberia, Louisiana lying side by side near her boyfriend–with three well-placed bullet holes behind each head.”

2) Case Detective Michael Vernado, in the rape/torture/murder of Faith Hathaway, a Dead Man Walking Case 

"I wouldn't have had as much trouble with (Prejean's) views if she would have told the truth . . ." " . . . (Sr. Prejean) based her book on what was in I guess a defense file and what (rapist/murderer) Robert Willie telling her." (1)

" . . . she's trying to mislead people in the book. And that's something that she's going have to work out with herself." "(Sr. Prejean's) certainly not after giving anybody spiritual advice to try to save their soul." (1)

Read Victims of Dead Man Walking, the true story of the rape and murder of Faith Hathaway by Robert Lee Willie and Joe Vaccaro, by the case Detective Mike Varnado,


Book Review: "Sister Prejean's Lack of Credibility: Review of "The Death of Innocents", by Thomas M. McKenna (New Oxford Review, 12/05) (3)

"The book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations."

"Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers."

"This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone's other than Williams's." 

" . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims, (she) implies that the victim's husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man."

" . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that 'the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.' " "The same court also did "not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case."

Prejean's speculation (lying?) is grotesque.

See three more reviews of this book/fraud, here:
Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review

2018 CCC 2267 amendment: 12 Factual Errors


Sharp reply: Did she consider the mental suffering of a parent who lost their innocent daughter to a rape/murder or, possibly, the mental (and physical) suffering of that girl, as she was being raped and murdered?

Of course, the sister considered it and she made her choice - the murderer.

5) "(Sr. Prejean) remains convinced that if people could see the brutality of killing a human being, they might reconsider their support for the death penalty." (4)

Sharp reply: See the pattern? Sr. Prejean is talking of the peaceful execution of the guilty murderers, not the incredible brutality of the murder of the innocent victims (4).

6) Sr. Prejean: “It is abundantly clear that the Bible depicts murder as a capital crime for which death is considered the appropriate punishment, and one is hard pressed to find a biblical ‘proof text’ in either the Hebrew Testament or the New Testament which unequivocally refutes this. Even Jesus’ admonition ‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ when He was asked the appropriate punishment for an adulteress (John 8:7) – the Mosaic Law prescribed death – should be read in its proper context. This passage is an ‘entrapment’ story, which sought to show Jesus’ wisdom in besting His adversaries. It is not an ethical pronouncement about capital punishment.” Dead Man Walking (2)

Sharp reply: Has she just forgotten all of this? Of course not. She decided to reverse reality.

Sister Prejean rightly cautions: “Many people sift through the Scriptures and select truth according to their own templates.” (Progressive, 1/96). 

Sadly, Sister Prejean appears to do much worse. The sister now uses that very same biblical text “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone” as proof of Jesus’ “unequivocal” rejection of capital punishment as “revenge and unholy retribution”!  (see Sister Prejean’s 12/12/96 fundraising letter on behalf of the Saga Of Shame book project for Quixote Center/Equal Justice USA)

Does Truth Matter? Sr. Prejean, The Church & U of Notre Dame 

7) Sr. Prejean claims that "75% of those on death row aren't educated above a sixth grade level" (5)

Sharp reply: The median education on death row is 12th grade, with 87% above 8th grade, 13% below (6). I suspect she just made up her claim.

Remember, Prejean is a death penalty expert.


8) Ford or Sr. Prejean: " . . . since 1973, there have been 146 (now 166) exonerations (from death row) (5)".

Sharp reply: This has been a well known fraud, beginning about 20 years, ago, when the number was 69.  Based upon numerous reviews, possibly, as many as 26-46 actual innocents (as of today) have been discovered and released from death row (7). Anti-death penalty folks just redefined "innocent" and "exonerated" as if they redefined lie as truth, and put a bunch of cases into those fraudulent definitions (7).

Ford writes: "Sister Helen devastates us with the reality that the death penalty is sought more often against people of color than against whites" (5).

Sharp reply:  White murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers and are executed at a rate 41% higher than black death row inmates (8a).

For the White–Black comparisons, the Black level is 12.7 times greater than the White level for homicide, 15.6 times greater for robbery, 6.7 times greater for rape, and 4.5 times greater for aggravated assault (8a). As robbery/murder is the most common capital murder, the multiple may be even higher.

"There is no race of the offender / victim effect at either the decision to advance a case to penalty hearing or the decision to sentence a defendant to death given a penalty hearing." (8a)

10) The sister calls the death penalty classist (5).

Sharp reply: "99.8% of poor murderers avoid execution. It depends, strictly, upon one's definitions of "wealthy" and "poor" , as to whether or not wealthy murderers are more or less likely than 0.2% to be executed, in the context of the very small percentage and number of wealthy capital murderers (9) and the vast majority of capital murderers being poor . . .  nearly regardless of your definitions."

11) Sr. Prejean states: "we turn our eyes away from the fact that we view violence as redemptive (5)."

Sharp reply: Why would we turn our eyes, away? Christians, more than any group, understand the redemptive value of violence, not only with the Passion of the Christ, but the redemptive value of the death penalty, as detailed for 2000 years (10).

As the Sister called God an ogre for crucifying His Son (10), her perspective is expected . . .

12) “(Sister Prejean) received nothing but a stony silence, however, when she questioned the basis of the biblical crucifixion story as a “projection of our violent society.” “Is this a God?” Prejean asked about the belief that God allowed his son, Jesus, to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. “Or is this an ogre?” “The audience — to that point in strong agreement with the author of “Dead Man Walking” — said and did nothing.” (11)

Sharp Reply: It is understandable that the audience was stunned. Sister Prejean is condemning the bedrock of the Christian faith.

She has done this, repeatedly.

Appropriately, Pope Benedict XIV appears to rebuke her a few days later:  “If to save us the Son of God had to suffer and die crucified, it certainly was not because of a cruel design of the heavenly Father. The cause of it is the gravity of the sickness of which he must cure us: an evil so serious and deadly that it will require all of his blood. In fact, it is with his death and resurrection that Jesus defeated sin and death, reestablishing the lordship of God. (12)”

None should be surprised.

Sister Prejean states, in reference to the death penalty, that “I couldn’t worship a god who is less compassionate than I am." (Progressive, 1/96).  She has, thereby, established her standard of compassion as the basis for God’s being deserving of her devotion. 

If God’s level of compassion does not rise to the level of her own, God couldn’t receive her worship. 

12) Redemption and the death penalty

The movie Dead Man Walking reveals a perfect example of how just punishment and redemption can work together.

Had rapist/murderer Matthew Poncelet not been properly sentenced to death by the civil authority, he would not have met Sister Prejean, he would not have received spiritual instruction, he would not have taken responsibility for his crimes and he would not have reconciled with God.  Had Poncelet never been caught or had he only been given a prison sentence, his character makes it VERY clear that those elements would not have come together.

Indeed, for the entire film and up until those last moments, prior to his execution, Poncelet was not truthful with Sister Prejean. His lying and manipulative nature was fully exposed at that crucial time.

It was not at all surprising, then, that it was just prior to his execution that all of the spiritual elements may have come together for his salvation. It was now, or never.

Truly, just as St. Aquinas stated, it was Poncelet’s pending execution which may have led to his repentance. For Christians, the most crucial concerns of Dead Man Walking must be and are redemption and eternal salvation.  For that reason, it may well be, for Christians, the most important pro-death penalty movie ever made.

In the book, murderer Patrick Sonnier stated: “I don’t want to leave this world with any hatred in my heart. I want to ask your forgiveness for what me and Eddie done, but Eddie done it”.

Prejean says: “(Patrick Sonnier) seems to accept that he is responsible for what had happened, even though he claims not to have killed the teenagers. … I suspend judgment. With the electric chair waiting, with death close like this, who the triggerman was seems not the point.” 

The most important point of any Christian ministry is salvation. If  the most important part of any Christian ministry is saving souls, and Sonnier is lying, and redemption is undermined, that seems a very important point.  What could be a more important point for a death row ministry?

Ending the death penalty?

In the movie, murderer Matthew Poncelet repeats the final words of one of the real murderers, Robert Willie: “I would just like to say … that I hope you get some relief from my death. Killing people is wrong. That’s why you’ve put me to death. It makes no difference whether it’s citizens, countries, or governments. Killing is wrong.” 

Here, tragically, hauntingly, it seems that Sister Prejean has taught Willie to be an anti-death penalty activist. The crucial elements of atonement, expiation, responsibility and forgiveness are replaced by the classic anti-death penalty saying that all “Killing is wrong”, the amoral position of equating murder and execution, violent crime and just sanction, the guilty murderer with the innocent victim – the worst set of messages for the murderer’s redemption . . . just as Detective Vernado observed. 

In his final statement, Kenneth Gentry, executed April 16, 1997, for the premeditated murder of his friend Jimmy Don Ham, stated: “I’d like to thank the Lord for the past 14 years (on death row) to grow as a man and mature enough to accept what’s happening here tonight. To my family, I’m happy. I’m going home to Jesus.” As the lethal drugs began to flow, Gentry cried out, “Sweet Jesus, here I come. Take me home. I’m going that way to see the Lord.” (Michael Gracyk, Associated Press, Houston Chronicle, 4/17/97).   

We cannot know if Gentry or the two real murderers from the DMW book really did repent and receive salvation.  But, we do know that St. Aquinas advises us that murderers should not be given the benefit of the doubt. We should err on the side of caution and not give murderers the opportunity to harm again.

 “The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.” St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.

1) Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review


Anti Victim: Anti-Death Penalty Movement

2)  Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review


4)  Sr. Helen Prejean: "Botched" Nun

5)  RE: REBUTTAL To: "God Allows Us to Wake Up”: Sister Helen Prejean Comes to BC,  By: Craig A. Ford, Jr., Graduate Students of Color Blog, 10/11/14,

6) Table 5, Capital Punishment 2012, Bureau Of Justice Statistics, May 2014, NCJ 245789

7)  Deception: The DPIC "Exonerated"/"Innocence" List
(see fact checking/vetting model) 

Death Row, "Exonerations", Media  & Intentional Fraud 

The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Deception

The 4.1% "Innocent" on Death Row: More Nonsense

Protecting Innocents

The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives 

Deterrence, Death Penalties & Executions


b) Table 12, Executions and other dispositions of inmates sentenced to death, by race and Hispanic origin, 1977–2012, Capital Punishment 2012, Bureau of Justice Statistics, last edited 11/3/14

9) See  
Is There Class Disparity with Executions?
within   The Death Penalty: Fair & Just


10) a) The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

b) New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming

11) “God, ogre comparison doesn’t fly with interfaith crowd”, Paul A. Anthony, Rocky Mountain News, 03:35 p.m., August 24, 2008.

12) “It Is Not ‘Optional’ for Christians to Take Up the Cross”, 8/31/2008)

See also
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents 

600+ pro death penalty quotes from murder victim's families &
3300+ from some of the greatest thinkers in history
Additional research,w/sources, w/fact checking/vetting & critical thinking, as required of everyone.  
The Death Penalty: Justice & Saving More Innocents
Students, Academics & Journalists: Death Penalty Research
Partial CV