Rev. Joseph B. Ingle, a United Church of Christ minister and a leading voice in faith-based opposition to the death penalty, will be presenting a public lecture Monday evening, February 15, at 6pm in Belk Auditorium, Mars Hill University. The lecture will be titled, “Why does the United States execute more of its citizens than any country in the world?”
Ingle will also be holding a workshop about the same issue on Monday afternoon, 3- 4:30 pm in Bentley Fellowship Hall. The workshop is entitled: “…and the criminals with him.”
The workshop will be interactive, examining Jesus of Nazareth and Socrates of Athens, who were both convicted criminals, and what lessons they teach us about criminals today and our relationship to them. In addition to Christians and philosophers of various sorts, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Atheists, Others, and “Nones” are welcome.
Ingle, a graduate of Union Theological Seminary, has been the chaplain to dozens of people on death row over the past forty years across the South.
In a January 2015 article in Faith and Leadership, the Duke Divinity School newsletter, Ingle said his interest in counseling inmates on death row began during seminary, from reading the biblical book of Isaiah and Mary’s “Magnificat,” along with declarations in the Bible about “freeing the captives.” He realized that he had never even been inside of a prison. This interest grew, and he decided to dedicate his senior year in seminary to visiting prisons.
“What you find out when you visit prisoners is they’re doing something for you. The ministry that goes on is not me ministering to the prisoners. It’s the other way around, and I think Jesus really knew that and that’s why he wanted us to get in the prisons.”
According to Ingle, the U.S. prison system is a "giant killing and caging machinery," which meets out retributive justice. Ingle says those values are inconsistent with the values of the Christian Gospel, which promotes restorative justice.
Ingle is the author of Last Rights: Thirteen Fatal Encounters with the States Justice (1990), The Inferno: A Southern Morality Tale (2011), and, most recently, Slouching Toward Tyranny: Mass Incarcerations, Death Sentences and Racism (2015).
The events at Mars Hill University are sponsored and coordinated by the following programs and departments: the Department of Religion, History, and Philosophy, The Visiting Artists and, Lectures Committee, The Office of the Chaplain and the Religious Life Program, The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, The Ethics-Across the-Curriculum Program, The Department of Criminal Justice, and The Advocates of Justice Club.
The public lecture on February 15, 6pm in Belk Auditorium is free to the public. Ingle's workshop on Monday afternoon is also free to the public, but admission is limited and an RSVP is required. If you are interested in this workshop please contact Dr. Katharine Meacham at firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-689-1119.
Ingle will also be speaking at the university’s Crossroads worship service on Tuesday, February 16 at 11am in Broyhill Chapel, with a message titled “Homecoming.”