Judges v Satan in bizarre death sentence appeal
MUSING aloud, a Texas appeal court judge asked earlier this year (2010) whether Satanism should be considered a religion, because religions revolve around worshipping a higher power.
Said Judge Lawrence Meyers:
Satan’s not an almighty being.
The Devil emerged as a key character in the appeal court hearing of Irving Davis, 27, who wants his death sentence for raping and killing a 15-year-old El Paso girl quashed.
Davis, unlike so many felons who suddenly find Jesus when they are put behind bars, embraced Satan instead.
But Davis’ defence lawyer maintains that jurors, who supported his death sentence at an earlier trial, should not have been informed that he had committed himself to Satan.
Ruben Morales, Davis’ lawyer, argued that introducing Satanism in court was an improper attempt to criminalise beliefs that society finds offensive or disagreeable.
The state’s attempt to place (Davis) in a bad light with the jury was nothing less than a ‘witch hunt.’ This is precisely the risk that society runs when it attempts to distinguish between good and bad religions.
The revelation, it is argued, violated Davis’ free exercise of religion and improperly prejudiced jurors against the inmate.
Morales also argued that the information was irrelevant because Davis was not a Satanist when Melissa Medina, 15, was killed, and had never committed a crime or violent act in Satan’s name.
Jurors were shown, over defence objections, Davis’ drawings depicting satanic symbols, books removed from his cell that included The Satanic Bible – (written by the late Anton Szandor LaVey who was, and still is, known as the Father of Modern Satanism) – and a pentagram tattoo on his chest.
Prosecutors counter that allegiance to the Church of Satan was relevant information for jurors, who had to determine whether Davis should be put to death as a continuing threat to society.
Davis’ arguments sent two of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judges down rhetorical paths that were more theological than legal.
A second appeal court judge. Michael Keasler, said:
I mean, come on, boil it all down, the Church of Satan? You’ve got to be kidding me as to how that’s good, because Satan himself, at least as far as Christian doctrine is concerned, is the epitome of what evil is. If somebody chooses to align themselves with something like that, it certainly would seem relevant.
But Keassler appears completely unaware of the fact that Christianity owes its very existence to Old Nick.
In the May, 2010, edition of the Freethinker, we carried a piece by the late Neil Blewitt, who pointed out:
Consider the version of the Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2 and 3. If the Devil, in the form of a serpent, had not beguiled Eve, and she, in turn, her husband into eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they would have retained their primal innocence, and it is likely therefore that the world’s population would have remained at two and there would have been no sin transmitted from the couple to future generations.
And no sin would have meant that there was no necessity for Jesus to come into the world to make atonement and, incidentally, no necessity for the Holy Ghost to sire him – even if the Virgin Mary had miraculously appeared. So there would have been no Christianity, none of the religious wars that followed in its wake, no persecutions, sectarian violence, nor hell and damnation.
The pity is that there would have been only two people to appreciate the situation.
UPDATE (March, 2013): On her blog, Frances Garrood, a British woman who campaigns against the death sentence, and corresponds with death row inmates, wrote of Davis:
He’s been on Death Row for 12 years, in solitary confinement ALL the time, in a metal cell with just a steel sink, loo and bunk. He is incredibly intelligent amd articulate; he paints and writes, when he can get the materials, and reads such books as he can get hold of. He may or may not be guilty of the crime for which he is convicted (many are probably innocent). It’s not my job to judge or condemn him, but to be as much of a friend as I can be to him (I hate the expression pen-friend as it sounds so juvenile somehow).