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State-Encouraged Church Attendance

I saw this over at the ever-brilliant, ever-sarcastic Cafe Witteveen:

It’s official. Even police know what people like me have been saying for years … church is equal to punishment.

If you break the law in Bay Minette, Alabama, you can either serve time in prison or in church … your choice.

I never expected anyone to validate that church is punishment. I hope they seat these prisoners away from any bibles. I wouldn’t want them getting any ideas about God-approved baby killing or raping the women in the pews around them if they read it.

Just sayin’.

Okay…so Cafe Witteveen is using sarcasm and humor to address the situation. I’m more feeling this right now:

From WKRG.com News:

Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let  misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.

Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.

So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.

Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail…and the church of their choice.

Let’s take this apart. Just a little. Just a slightly harder look at some of the implications and assumptions being made here.

Offenders have a choice.

Let’s see… you can either go to jail and pay a fine, or continue about your daily routine and devote an hour or two per every 168-hour week to going to church. How is this a reasonable choice? If the offender has a family to support, or a job, or is in school, or has no money to pay fines, or don’t want a permanent criminal record, there is no choice here. In the video above Chief Rowland says that if he would have to choose between going to jail and paying a hefty fine or just going to church he’d certainly select church. Really? I’m shocked!

This isn’t a violation of church and state.

I don’t know if this would legally be considered a church-state violation, but it seems to me to be walking a fine line. A judge is telling offenders that their only options are go to jail and have a permanent criminal record or go to church and have your case dismissed. Go do something that is really, really painful for a variety of reasons or go to church. The judge is determining that what these criminals need is religion to straighten out their lives. There are no secular options – no community service, no counseling programs – for citizens who do not believe in God.

But don’t worry, there are a lot of options for different churches in Bay Minette and the surrounding area – 109 of them. You’ve got yer Baptist, yer Catholic, yer Methodist, yer Assembly of God, yer Presbyterian, yer Episcopal, a few of them Lutherans, and about a gazillion different house of worship with the phrase “of Christ” in the name somewhere. Why they even have themselves a Temple…for the Pentacostals. I mean if you can’t find yourself a house of worship in that list…what’s that? What’s a synogogue? Hell no, they don’t got any of them mosques down here. That’s a New York problem.

 Church “could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.”

Church will save you. You will get some of those morals thingies that non-criminals have if you go to church. You need God to be a good person.

In the video above, Chief Rowland tells us that 30-day drug and alcohol programs don’t work…that longevity of treatment is the key. He assures us that “long-term programs do work”. So why not extend drug and alcohol programs…why not have mandated attendance at post-program meetings, something that may address an underlying addiction? Or…there’s a invisible guy in the clouds, I guess.

People who commit crimes don’t attend church. If they start going to church, they won’t commit any more crimes.

I’m guessing that some of these misdemeanor criminals are already going to church. So, what you’re telling the good people of Bay Minette Alabama is…if you’re going to church and you commit a crime, there’s no punishment. You just keep going to church. You have just made misdemeanors easier to commit, Bay Minette. Good job.

This “solution” is small-minded and I will be shocked if it curbs crime in Bay Minette, Alabama. But let me know how that works out for you.

Comments

  1. Hubby says

    The message from the Bay Minette program is that believing in God will make people good. However, the reason for the program is likely more about saving the city money than endorsing religion.

  2. prochoice says

    What does “success” mean?
    That you have to attend mass, talk to the preacher and stay reasonably polite?
    What if you keep your own values, and cannot be converted to the respective religion?
    The way this uniformed faithhead expresses himself makes me suspicious!!!

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