More negative impacts from religion

I was under the impression we were still using the constitution, but I guess that’s not the case in Alabama:

The small town of Bay Minette, Alabama is telling people convicted of small crimes to choose Jesus or choose jail.

Starting this week, the city judge will implement Operation Restore Our Community (ROC), which gives misdemeanor offenders a choice between fines and jail or a year of Sunday church services.

“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland told the Alabama Press-Register. “It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

This is a problem that comes from things like religious-based sexual immaturity and a general lack of education. (I know, I know. Poor education in Alabama? I’m shocked, too.) And besides that, I don’t think it’s too out there to say that most of the offenders in Alabama, even the young ones, believe in God already anyway. It’s impossible to live anywhere in America and not be inundated with Christianity. That is especially true of the south, including Bible-thumping Alabama.

Pastor Robert Gates told WRKG that the program was a win-win for everyone involved.

“You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I’ll show you a person who won’t be a problem to society,” he said.

Westboro Baptist Church, Somalia, Nigeria, George Tiller’s murderer, Catholic Church officials, Kent Hovind, Spanish Inquisitors, the Crusaders, Republicans, so on, so forth.

But you know the religious have really gone overboard when this is the case:

Think Progress’ Ian Millhiser noted that the program would even be considered illegal under conservative Justice Antonin Scalia’s view of the Constitution.

“In his dissenting opinion in Lee v. Weisman, Scalia wrote that the state may not use the ‘threat of penalty’ to ‘coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise,'” Millhiser wrote. “Telling someone — even someone convicted of a crime — that they must participate in a religious service or go to jail clearly fails Justice Scalia’s test.”

This is just going to cost Bay Minette a bunch of money in legal fees.

9 Responses

  1. These people have ROCs in their heads instead of brains. Just declare yourself a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to get a get-out-of-jail card.

  2. If you add Obama to your list of religious people who are a problem, I may consider not filing this post in the hot air folder. You have a genuine church and state separation issue and one of your arguments is that religious people cause problems too?

  3. His continuation of Bush’s faith-based initiatives is awful, but you’ve got my arguments confused. What I’ve put up here are counter-arguments to specific things. That is, these people think the issue is that there isn’t enough religion. The falsity of that statement is easily demonstrated. I also bookended the post with two references to the unconstitutional nature of this junk.

  4. Future news: Bill Bobalink, recently sentenced to ‘church’ for assaulting his minor children in lieu of jail, was recently rearrested for murder charges when he stoned the insolent youth to death.

    Bobalink is claiming religious immunity for the crime, claiming it was the result of intensive church therapy and bible classes.

    Being labeled as the “Deuteronomy Defense”, his attorneys are confident they can appeal to the religious fundamentalist nature of his ‘peers’ and are anticipating a not guilty verdict.


  5. Well Michael, there may or may not be enough religion, that’s just a simple judgement call.

    The only issue I see is a church and state one, not whether the religious still act like all other humans act, badly at times.

  6. It isn’t a judgement call at all. There is someone making a claim which can be verified or dismissed based upon fact. That is, he is saying that more religion brings people more in line with the law – he’s blaming a lack of religion on why people become problems to society in legal terms. That isn’t true, especially for his area.

  7. I’m talking about what you have said. You did say that it was easily demonstrated that there is too much religion, or at least words to that effect.

    I don’t see how that’s possible with any objectivity at all. I might as well say there is too much atheism or there is too much in the way of government spending. Entirely subjective statements as far as I can tell as all those statements rely on the individuals definitions of too much.

  8. I said these people think the issue is that there isn’t enough religion. “The issue” refers to the cause of crime in the area of Bay Minette. But obviously a lack of religion is not the issue since most criminals in the US are Christians plus crime rates have been trending downwards as we’ve become more secular. (These are correlations and I’m not suggesting that religion causes people to break the law, but I am saying that the facts do not support the contention that more religion brings crime down.)

  9. I can follow that than.

    The only thing I would contend is that religion probably is the answer for some. It could never be the answer for all. Becoming an atheist is probably the answer for others. I’d just say that a lack of a feeling of belonging or hopelessness is the reason behind a lot of crimes, any thing that can restore or grant a sense of meaning and/or belonging, whatever it may be, is a good idea.

    While I am for the separation of church and state, I don’t have a problem with religious programs in jails and such. It has to be done right though. A solid, open program that isn’t the ONLY option. I can’t imagine you would disagree with that. Religious programs, educational programs, work programs, perhaps even similar self-helping programs run by atheist groups if someone has the mind to put one together, are all valid and equal ideas for preventing recidivism.

    However any type of “either _______ or jail” program is entirely unsatisfactory.

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