Auburn Seminary condemns racism, opposes death penalty in Roof sentencing

January 5, 2017
Contact: Aimee Thunberg, [email protected]

Auburn Seminary condemns racism, opposes death penalty in Roof sentencing

Statement of Executive Vice President Rev. John H. Vaughn

NEW YORK — Dylann Roof, who was convicted of murder and hate crime charges for killing nine people at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, will represent himself as a jury decides his sentence, with the death penalty on the table. Auburn Seminary Executive Vice President Rev. John H. Vaughn issued the following statement on the sentencing hearing:

“We offer our deepest sympathy to the victims and survivors of Dylann Roof’s murderous racist rampage at Mother Emmanuel. Dylann Roof was radicalized by white racists, and he murdered nine beautiful lives. My family met Rev. Pinckney from Mother Emmanuel a few years ago when he previously pastored in Bluffton, South Carolina, so his death resonated deeply in our household. As a Christian, I believe that repentance is always available for those who seek it. And we pray that Mr. Roof might repent and be transformed. Taking Mr. Roof’s life neither provides for that possibility and nor does it erase the trauma and pain experienced by so many.

“In addition, there are overwhelming data demonstrating that the death penalty is applied more often to people of color and its application has been proven to be tainted with racial bias. However deeply horrific Dylann Roof’s acts were, we know that the death penalty as practiced in America is deeply flawed. Taking Mr. Roof’s life does not change that.

“We call on faith leaders across religious traditions to take action to embrace and build an inclusive, loving worldview, united in one belief: We are all God’s children.”


Auburn Seminary identifies and strengthens leaders — from the pulpit to the public square — to build communities, bridge divides, pursue justice and heal the world.

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