I am honored and humbled by the Huffington Post article written by one of my heroes, Jeanne Bishop. Jeanne and I met over coffee in Nashville, Tennessee a couple of years ago. She was there to co-present the Trial of Christ with University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor, Mark Osler. All three of us had the pleasure of beginning a deepening conversation and relationship, one that continues to inspire and encourage to this very day.
Jeanne is the real hero. She is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who was shot to death at age 25 along with her husband and their unborn child. You can read more about her family’s story here. Taking her sister’s dying words deep within her soul and finding inspiration, courage, and strength, Jeanne is a witness to what the powers of love and mercy might truly unleash on our world. And what a world it would be if we had more Jeannes.
Since the murders of her family members, Jeanne has been a prominent advocate for gun violence prevention, abolition of the death penalty, exoneration of the innocent and the role of faith in the debate over executions. Read more about and from Jeanne. It will be well worth your time to hear more from her. Jeanne tirelessly defends the indigent criminally accused as Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Cook County (IL) Public Defender. Jeanne volunteers with the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, lobbying in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures for sensible gun safety laws. She is a board member of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, an organization of murder victims’ family members who oppose the death penalty. She serves on the Advisory Board of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions and as an officer of the Chicago Innocence Project. She collaborates with Mark Osler on a unique project juxtaposing Christian faith and beliefs about the death penalty: a mock trial of Jesus under modern death penalty law.
Jeanne, thank you for your leadership in love and mercy.
Jeanne reminds me that there are victims to be remembered, especially when we talk about violent crime. However, some victims transcend their pain and suffering, allowing for their loved ones’ lives to speak a legacy of mercy and forgiveness that truly heals. Although significant numbers of those imprisoned today are nonviolent offenders, I am quite mindful that many prisoners leave devastation and heartbreak in their wake. We must not forget the suffering of those left in this painful wake of violent crime. But as Jeanne and her family’s lives manifest mercy, forgiveness, and love in the face of unimaginable pain, we have heroes that may lead us all to a better place, a place where the healing power of grace will transform us all.