ThinkProgress notes of this new unconstitutional program in, Bay Minette, Alabama. The program is called Operation Restore Our Community. These are the details:
Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor [sic] 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.
It doesn’t take much brains to realize that this is unconstitutional. And considering this is ordered by their city judge, it is obvious that he is just trying to promote religion. According to the local news wkrg.com, this is what the Bay Minette Police Chief, Mike Rowland, had to say
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.
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.
Rowland is blatantly lying. And like the city judge–I could not find his name–he too is trying to promote a religious agenda. How in hell is giving someone the option between church or jail a real choice? Who is going to say, no I think I’d prefer to be locked up. Yeah, that seems like fun. I won’t see my family, I won’t have to work, I can’t go on vacation, I’ll make a bunch of new friends in jail. Oh! I just can’t wait!
This is obviously unconstitutional and if the police chief thinks that this isn’t true, not only should he be fired, but his department should be investigated.
Furthermore, Reagan appointee to the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, notes,
In his dissenting opinion in Lee v. Weisman, Scalia wrote that the state may not us the “threat of penalty” to “coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise.” 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.
Yes, even Scalia would be against this fanatical program.
Think Progress adds that even conservative law Professor Eugene Volokh points out,
religiously compelled church attendance is so clearly and obviously unconstitutional, that the Mississippi Supreme Court held that a “judge’s decision to order people to attend church as a condition of bail is not just unconstitutional, but merits a 30-day suspension from the bench.” Again, this was in Mississippi.
Even Mississippi is against this. Mississippi for crying out loud! This state is in the heart of the bible-belt and it still says this program is unconstitutional! A 30-day suspension to the judge should be given at the very minimum. The judge obviously knows it is unconstitutional and intentionally ignores the law.
This is the problem with religion. People are not able to keep it to themselves; they have to force it upon the rest of the world. Whether it be divorce, abortion, sex education, contraceptives, family planning, child abuse, hatred toward homosexuals, or pushing a religious agenda in the public school system. All of these are bad. So called “moderate” religion is not benign either, it acts as a succor for hatred and violence.
Instead of this program, how about something that is helpful? Say, attending school or going to therapy or how about public service?