Daniel Chen of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Discusses Freedom of Religion in the Execution Chamber

In the November 2021 episode of Discussions with DPIC, Daniel Chen, counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, speaks with DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham about the Supreme Court case Ramirez v. Collier and death-row prisoners’ rights to religious freedom. John Ramirez has challenged Texas’ restrictions on audible prayer and physical touch by his spiritual advisor during his execution. Allowing such pastoral comfort in the execution chamber, Chen says, is about “fundamental human dignity.”

Chen describes the Becket Fund’s involvement in Ramirez and other cases involving the free exercise of religion in the execution chamber, and traces the history of audible prayer and clergy touch during executions. Texas’ policy is out of step with historical practices, including its own pre-2019 regulations, Chen explains. Chen and Dunham conclude their discussion exploring the Becket Fund’s belief that the fundamental human right to religious liberty must be protected, even “for people who might be different from us, who might have different life circumstances,” including those on death row.