By Charles deGravelles and Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr.

Feltus Taylor, Jr., was born in Manhasset, N.Y. His mother, a prostitute and drug addict, gave him up for adoption. He was raised primarily by an adopted grandmother, Mrs. Henrietta Rowan, in Baton Rouge. He spent 10 years of a 15-year sentence at Hunt Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

He was later convicted of the 1991 murder of Donna Ponsano and sentenced to execution. He is the author of an unpublished autobiography, “Waiting to Die,” edited by Ronlyn Domingue, and a book of collected essays, “Letters to Young People from Prison,” edited by Charles deGravelles. 

Charles deGravelles

Charles deGravelles

Charles (Charlie) deGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He is the founder of the Episcopal prison ministry at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (now the Chapel of the Transfiguration) where he has been a volunteer chaplain since 1990. A former newspaper and television journalist, deGravelles is a chaplain and teacher at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge. He is married to Angela Winder and has three children and one grandchild. His poems and short stories are widely published in literary magazines and anthologies. He is the author of a book of poems, “The Well Governed Son,” 1984, New Orleans Poetry Journal Press. 

Charlie and Feltus met on Angola’s Death Row in 1997. Charlie became his spiritual advisor and friend until Feltus was executed by lethal injection on June 6, 2000. Charlie was with him.

In the beginning (Charlie)

I grew up in a south Louisiana household without guns. Many years before, my dad, as a boy, made his first and final kill, a mallard duck shot in a marsh south of Thibodeaux. The kill had not excited but saddened him. He stared into the glistening eyes of the creature, limp but still alive and fluttering in the mouth of a retriever. It was his last hunt. He justified to us his lack of enthusiasm by telling us often that guns were more likely to kill someone in the household than an intruder. A hard-core conservative and staunch Republican, he nonetheless had no use for guns. As he did with all of the important lessons he wanted to impress on us, my dad clipped newspaper stories — in this case, accounts of innocent people accidentally killed by friends or family — and taped them to the refrigerator.

So naturally, my brother and I, at our first opportunity, surreptitiously bought guns. They were BB pistols, one apiece, shiny and with a container of copper BB’s in each box. We bought them and extra BB’s with money earned from chores at a Sears and Roebuck down the street, and we carefully hid them in our closet. Read More…

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Three of the top 10 religion news stories of 2012 relate to violence. Huffington Post editors tabbed the debate about the presence or absence of God at the slaughter of six- and seven-year-olds in Newtown, Conn., as the No. 1 religion story of 2012.

Earlier in the year, another crazed gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., and a low-budget film that skewered the Islamic faith led to riots in a number of Muslim countries. The fact that three of the top 10 religion stories last year involved violence may actually seem a little low, since violence has used religion and religion has used violence since the beginning of the human enterprise.

The extraordinary violence of the 20th century made everyone take a new look at the role of religion in the cruelty of human beings against other human beings. We are quite aware of the use of the name of God to defeat enemies. Every German solider in World War II had “God With Us” printed on the uniform belt. Christians have been forced to look more critically at our history, confessing sins as massive as the Crusades and the Inquisition. Contemporaries know the violent conflicts between peoples of different faiths, such as in Ireland between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and in the Middle East between Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Of course, note is also taken of the fact that faith communities in general and the Christian churches in particular have also been responsible for much of the emancipation, liberation and progress in our world. But are Christians limited to a balancing act, weighing the peace and justice to which we contribute over against the religious contribution — or simple acquiescence — to  violence? Read More…

Piero Corsi

Piero Corsi

An Italian priest found himself embroiled in a national controversy this week after a Christmas bulletin he posted in his church went viral.

Perio Corsi’s flier, entitled “Women and femicide – healthy self-criticism. How often do they provoke?” claimed that women in Italy may be to blame for a spate of domestic violence attacks, Raw Story notes. Members of the priest’s congregation then posted the text on the Internet:

“How often do we see girls and mature women going around scantily dressed and in provocative clothes?

They provoke the worst instincts, which end in violence or sexual abuse. They should search their consciences and ask: did we bring this on ourselves?” Read the full story at To sign a petition supporting women’s rights in the Christian church, click here.