Sunday, December 10, 2006

tax dollars for churches to evangelize prisoners

What do arkansas, alabama, virginia, colorado, florida, kansas, missouri, south carolina, and texas have in common? ... Well, they are all red states. All but Kansas and Colorado had educational segregration required by law before Brown v. Board of Education. And all their attorneys general have signed amici curiae briefs in support of the appelant in Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, et. al. v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, et. al.
Well--it's related the story today from the New York Times entitled "Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid for by Tax Dollars". It seems that under (surprise surprise) Bush and co, there has been a proliferation of religion based rehabilitation programs in prisons across the U.S., all paid for with tax dollars. And it seems that courts have been finding lots of the organization running these programs guilty of unconstitutionally using their tax funds to "evangelize". However, they generally just get a slap on the wrist and no more money. A court in Iowa, however, finally said "enough is enough" and has ordered Prison Fellowship Ministries to pay back US$1.5 Million, saying that "this all added up to an unconstitutional use of taxpayer money for religious indoctrination" and that "the constitutional violations were serious and clearly foreseeable." And what exactly is Prison Fellowship Ministries? It's the organization founded by right wing evangelical commentator and watergate criminal Charles Colson. Funnily enough, Colson spent his watergate related prison time in a prison in alabama, whose attorney general is now helping the organization Colson founded.

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