Roman Catholic nun speaks out against Texas law banning religious prayer aloud during death row executions

WASHINGTON, D.C. - MARCH 20: Morning light shines outside The United States Supreme Court building on March 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARCH 20: Morning light shines outside The United States Supreme Court building on March 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 5:41 PM PT – Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Catholic nun is speaking out against a Texas law banning religious or spiritual advisers from touching death row inmates or praying aloud during executions.

In a recent interview, Sister Barbara Bautista argued the law is adding insult to injury by denying inmates the comfort of a clergy person by their side. Bautista has signed onto a legal brief to the Supreme Court in support of a challenge to the statute, which the high court will consider later this month.

The challenge revolves around John Henry Ramirez, whose attorneys have argued is being deprived of his First Amendment right to practice his religion. “It is hostile toward religion, denying religious exercise at the precise moment it is most needed: when someone is transitioning from this life to the next,” said Seth Kretzer, Ramirez’ lawyer.

This undated photo provided by The Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John Henry Ramirez. Ramirez, a Texas death row inmate set to be executed Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2020, for killing a convenience store worker more than 17 years earlier in a robbery that garnered $1.25, is asking that his pastor be allowed to lay hands on him as he dies by lethal injection. The request by Ramirez is the latest clash between death row inmates and prison officials in Texas and other states over the presence of spiritual advisers in the death chamber. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

This undated photo provided by The Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows John Henry Ramirez. Ramirez. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

“I hope that if the state still is going to execute Mr. Ramirez, that at the very least that he be allowed his clergy person in the room, in the death chamber, he be allowed to pray out loud with him and that clergy person be allowed to actually physically touch Mr. Ramirez, to give him some human contact before he takes his last breath,” requested Bautista.

Ramirez’ execution and a few others have been put on hold while the Supreme Court considers his challenge to the policy.

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