Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Sentencing Convicts to Go to Church

An Oklahoma judge recently sentenced an Oklahoma teenager to attend church for ten years as part of his probation.

Greg Horton, writing for the Oklahoma Gazette, asked for my opinion about the sentence.

Greg's story was picked up by the Washington Post and by the Huffington Post this morning.

Here's the portion of the story that quotes my opinion:

The Rev. Bruce Prescott, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he is sure the sentence doesn’t pass constitutional muster, but he is equally worried about the spiritual ramifications.

“I’m a minister,” Prescott said. “I want people to go to church, but it’s not helpful for a judge to sentence someone to church. What will the judge do if the young man changes his affiliation in the next few years? Will he be allowed to switch to a mosque or become an atheist? Religion is not a tool of the state, and it’s certainly not for the state to use as a tool of rehabilitation.”
For the record, I am executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, a former executive board member of the national organization of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a past president of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United. Greg tells me on Facebook that he got this information mixed up and is working to correct it.

1 comment:

Robert Schumacher said...

The remarks were spot on, though!