Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Onward Christian Soldiers -Pt. 2

New Battles in the War Against The First Amendment

Item #2: From this New York Times article about a government funded program to rehabilitate prison inmates.
"The program — which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time — says on its Web site that it seeks “to ‘cure’ prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems” and showing inmates “how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past.” "
To qualify for inclusion in the program the inmate had to, "satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress." One big problem with it was that it was blatantly sectarian.
"One Roman Catholic inmate, Michael A. Bauer, left the program after a year, mostly because he felt the program staff and volunteers were hostile toward his faith.

“My No. 1 reason for leaving the program was that I personally felt spiritually crushed,” he testified at a court hearing last year. “I just didn’t feel good about where I was and what was going on.” "
Another problem was how do you judge the sincerity of prisoners being bribed for their participation? They were getting the following perks:
"More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms."
Sounds to me like something other than a prison environment. Several programs just like the one in Iowa just discussed have already been declared illegal.
"And, typically, the only penalty imposed when constitutional violations are detected is the cancellation of future financing — with no requirement that money improperly used for religious purposes be repaid.

But in a move that some constitutional lawyers found surprising, Judge Pratt ordered the prison ministry in the Iowa case to repay more than $1.5 million in government money, saying the constitutional violations were serious and clearly foreseeable.

His decision has been appealed by the prison ministry to a federal appeals court and fiercely protested by the attorneys general of nine states and lawyers for a number of groups advocating greater government accommodation of religious groups. The ministry’s allies in court include the Bush administration, which argued that the repayment order could derail its efforts to draw more religious groups into taxpayer-financed programs."

Well Boo frickin' Hoo. It's so typical of the Bush administration to break the law and then whine like babies when their transgressions are pointed out to them. I say Kudos to Judge Pratt for defending the Constitution and the rule of law.

Related Posts:
Onward Christian Soldiers - Pt. 1
Faith-Based Initiatives Abused
Once Upon A Time
TAGS: , , ,

Cross-posted from Les Enragés.org