Home > Uncategorized > Death Penalty Trial of Jesus of Nazareth in Austin

Death Penalty Trial of Jesus of Nazareth in Austin

Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Paynter

Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Paynter


Welcome to the courtroom in the sanctuary of the historically progressive First Baptist Church in downtown Austin on Maundy Thursday 2013 where The State of Texas versus Jesus of Nazareth trial was in its sentencing stage and the folks who were watching the play were the jurors.
Jesus with his defense team

Jesus with his defense team

Dressed in a tee shirt, cuffed up jeans and wearing sandals, Jesus of Nazareth (played by Dan Barrett) sat in between his defense attorneys. Two prosecutors were at the table to their left. Behind all of them sat the trial judge and the witness box was stage right.

Bob Kinney Words & Photos

Prosecutor Mark Osler

Prosecutor Mark Osler

Titled “The Trial of Jesus – Will a jury sentence Jesus to death under Texas Law?” the two-hour powerful enactment of the sentencing of Christ is the creation of Mark Osler – a former federal prosecutor in Detroit, professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis and author of the book “Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment” – played the prosecutor and argued that Jesus should be sentenced to death.

Defense Attorney Jeanne Bishop

Defense Attorney Jeanne Bishop

Jeanne Bishop – a veteran public defender in Chicago and adjunct professor teaching in the trial advocacy program at Northwestern University School of Law – advocated for Jesus’ right to live. Bishop knows murder – her sister Nancy, husband and unborn child were killed in the invasion of their Chicago suburb home in 1990.

Bob Kinney Words & Photos

The Rich Young Ruler performed by Joe Bumbulis

The Rich Young Ruler performed by Joe Bumbulis


Peter the Apostle performed by Joe Grady Moore

Peter the Apostle performed by Joe Grady Moore

The attorneys questioned four witnesses – The Rich Young Ruler (played by Joe Bumbulis) – Peter the Apostle (Joe Grady Moore) – A Centurion (Patrick Torres) – and Susanna Jerusalem The Woman Caught in Adultery (Ann Pittman).

Prosecutor questions Peter about a biblical passage about him

Prosecutor questions Peter about a biblical passage about him


The Young Ruler – owner of a profitable construction company – was the Biblical One who asked Jesus “How Can I Enter Heaven?” Peter testified he had seen Jesus walk on water, cast demons out, bring Lazarus back from the dead and rid the soiled temple of moneychangers – and sadly admitted that he had denied knowing Jesus three times in the Last Supper garden. The Roman Centurion told how Jesus cured his valued servant from afar. The adulterous woman – to me the most stunning segment – said she was making love with her fiancée in her home when “religious leaders” broke into her home and took her to jail where she was naked before everyone until Jesus asked the iconic question – “He who is without sin should cast the first stone.”
The Roman Centurion performed by Patrick Torres

The Roman Centurion performed by Patrick Torres

Jesus rescued Susanna Jerusalem (Ann Pittman) from the Death Penalty

Jesus rescued Susanna Jerusalem (Ann Pittman) from the Death Penalty

Bob Kinney Words & Photos

After closing arguments, those in the First Baptist audience were sworn in as jurors and given two questions to deliberate on – “Is there a probability that, if not executed, Jesus would commit criminal acts that would constitute a continuing threat to society?” – and – “In light of all mitigation, is a death sentence warranted?” Jurors formed groups within pews and discussed the verdict for thirty minutes. Trial judge – Andy Hathcock, Associate Civil District Judge of Travis County – then asked for each group’s verdict. Jurors were split somewhat on the first question but most chose life in prison without parole.
In his thoughtful article about the play, Austin American Statesman faith writer Juan Castillo notes that Osler created the play in 2001 when he taught law at Baylor University. The presentation is only meant to challenge Christians to think about the death penalty in the context of their faith, Osler told the reporter. “For Christians, part of that context is the trial and execution of Jesus,” he said.

Travis County District Judge Andy Hathcock

Travis County District Judge Andy Hathcock

Castillo continues that Osler contacted First Baptist Church Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Paynter after he read Roger’s passionate sermon on the Newton Slaughter of Children. “If your church is open to preaching what you said, maybe they’d be open to this event,” Paynter recalled. “It’s Holy Week – what better time to engage this historic trial and re-examine it through the fresh eyes of the penal code?” The Austin performance on February 28 was the twelfth time it has been presented throughout the country – mostly in churches and universities.

But no state can come close to Texas’ rate of executions since the Supreme Court okayed the death penalty in 1976. Six executions are slated to take place just in the month of April in the Death House in Huntsville. A group of folks – including me – gather at the south entrance to the State Capitol whenever the State of Texas kills someone – usually around 6pm.

Jurors begin deliberating

Jurors begin deliberating


Jury captain announces verdict of his group

Jury captain announces verdict of his group

The rate of state executions has slowed somewhat thanks to the lobbying efforts of Suzii Paynter. Husband Roger proudly points out she did much to make the option of Life Without Parole available to Texas jurors through legislative action. As Director of Christian Life Commission, Baptist General Convention of Texas, she directs all public policy initiatives for state and federal issues.

Thursday’s stunning performance was a nifty segway into First Baptist’s wonderful Good Friday liturgy featuring Pastor Paynter’s sermon – this year on The Hands of Jesus – followed by the stripping of the altar, dimming of lights and extinguishing of candles into sanctuary darkness and the sound of large nails being dropped into a metal bucket by each person leaving.

First Baptist Sanctuary after stunning Good Friday service

First Baptist Sanctuary after stunning Good Friday service


Bob Kinney Words & Photos

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Reblogged this on BOSQUE NORSE MUSINGS.

  2. Irish Mist
    December 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Hello there

    May I enquire, did Joe Grady Moore live in Ireland when he was young ?

    Does Philpot ring any bells for him ?

    Kind Regards

    controller@iol.ie

    • December 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Hello Irish Mist
      I have passed your message on to Pastor Roger Paynter to pass on to Joe Grady Moore.
      Let me know what develops.
      My folks’ ancestors came from Counties Cork and Clare.
      Bob Kinney
      Austin Texas

      • Irish Mist
        December 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        Ah yes, county Clare: my family is from there, spent many a happy summer in Kilkee; it seems like 300 year ago now. Appended is a little tune which has an accompanying landscape loop.

        The Cliffs of Moher are at 2:25 to 2:35. There look peaceful now, but are at their most impressive in Winter as they blithely shrug off 50 foot Atlantic rollers that travel all the way from America: hurling themselves in desperation at the 700 foot cliffs just to explode and disintegrate instantly into a maelstorm of foam and mist. The deep rumble and accompanying ground tremors are apocalyptic. I’ve often wondered how long they must have travelled to achieve such a fate, and what on Earth could they have been thinking of . . .

        And then there’s Cork. Least said soonest mended. We’re still quite tribal over here. At 2:25 to 2:35 Eyeries may be seen.That’s West Cork on a sunny day (they get 3 per year!). They are mad as March hares down there. Was at a wedding of an old friend in that little white chapel last summer. The post wedding reception went on for two days; I’m still in detox and under a very very short leash from Management since then. She’s demanded that I eschew wine forever and a day.

        PS: I’m ‘Saxman’ who commented on the Youtube thingy a couple of months ago.

        It’s most like that I’ve got the wrong Joe Grady Moore. It’s difficult to tell: we’ve both done a lot of miles in the interim. As I recall he was titled ‘Joe Grady Moore 3rd’; spoke with a lovely Southern drawl and was a member of a most curios congregation. He had an innate curiosity, irrepressible optimism, and was generous to a fault.

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