Saturday, June 03, 2006

No Bible School for Iowa Prisoners

According to this AP story a judge has ruled against a Bible based program conducted by Prison Fellowship Ministries in Iowa.

A judge has ruled that a Bible-based prison program violates the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause by using state funds to promote Christianity to inmates.

Prison Fellowship Ministries, which was sued in 2003 by an advocacy group, was ordered Friday to cease its program at the Newton Correctional Facility and repay the state $1.53 million.

"This calls into question the funding for so many programs," said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit. "Anyone who doesn't stop it is putting a giant 'sue me' sign on top of their building."

Lynn's group accused Prison Fellowship Ministries of giving preferential treatment to inmates participating in the program. They were given special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks "seemingly minor benefits" that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program "impermissibly endorses religion," Pratt wrote

Read the rest of the story here.

So what if this program is state funded? Does anyone really believe that this is the beginning of our country's path toward theocracy? Just as state prison officials allude to, this program was designed to promote good behaivor and to hopefully keep these inmates from returning to prison after they are released. As far as the special favors are concerned, why not give prisoners some incentive to participate in a program that will teach such values as thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not kill?

How would this group of concerned united Americans react if the program was for Muslims that were incarcerated, or anyone of any other religion? I have a feeling it would be a non-issue for them. I am sure some in this group would pose the same question to me. As far as I am concerned if the program leads to good behaivor and less repeat incarcerations it is fine with me. Of course I would have a problem with the allowance of a radical Muslim cleric or any other radical of any religion preaching anger and violence as one could clearly see this would be the antithesis to how we would want to rehabilitate our prisoners. The bottom line is these programs should be allowed as long as participation is not forced and as long as the purpose is to help rehabilitate prisoners into productive members of society.

This is just more anti-Christian craziness propagated by groups like Americans United for Seperation of Church and State and the ACLU.

Linked at Stop the ACLU and Church and State and Adam's Blog

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