The dumb idea of censoring faith in prisons

I don’t get political very much, because I’d rather avoid the accompanying mud baths. However, this one is too much for me to keep quiet about, and I sure hope we get somebody in office next year who chooses to dismantle some of the stupidity that’s been put in place in the name of anti-terrorism in this country.

An absolutely frightening thing has been happening in our prisons, according to an article in the New York Times. By federal mandate in the wake of 9/11, “chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.”

The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.

…prison chaplains, and groups that minister to prisoners, say that an administration that put stock in religion-based approaches to social problems has effectively blocked prisoners’ access to religious and spiritual materials — all in the name of preventing terrorism.

…A chaplain who has worked more than 15 years in the prison system, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is a bureau employee, said: “At some of the penitentiaries, guys have been studying and reading for 20 years, and now they are told that this material doesn’t meet some kind of criteria. It doesn’t make sense to them. They’re asking, ‘Why are our tapes being taken, why our books being taken?’”

Of the lists, he said, “Many of the chaplains I’ve spoken to say these are not the things they would have picked.”

Inmates are furious and lawsuits are pending.

The issue, of course, is this “approved list” and who is on the group of “experts” that the government tapped to create the list. According to the article, the effort has decimated libraries of some prisons.

Folks, this is not only a violation of the Constitution; it’s just plain wrong. But it’s the kind of totalitarian activism that I’ve come to expect from Washington in the past six years. Impotent to actually do anything constructive, we’re wasting our time and resources on foolishness like this. It’s like running over a wasp with a steamroller just to make sure it’s dead. It doesn’t matter how many other bugs get crushed in the process.

This is not what our country is all about. We’re actually destroying the very freedom that we’re trying to sell to other cultures. How dumb is that?

Comments

  1. [snip]

    This is not what our country is all about. We’re actually destroying the very freedom that we’re trying to sell to other cultures. How dumb is that?

    [/snip]

    Here, here! We’re trying to sell freedom in places where it’s crushed, yet we’re trampling all over civil liberties here. “Physician, heal thyself!” is what it makes me think of…

Trackbacks

  1. […] Terry Heaton reports and opines on an American prison system that is blocking prisoners’ access to religious and spiritual materials in the name of preventing terrorism. Folks, this is not only a violation of the Constitution; it’s just plain wrong. But it’s the kind of totalitarian activism that I’ve come to expect from Washington in the past six years. Impotent to actually do anything constructive, we’re wasting our time and resources on foolishness like this. It’s like running over a wasp with a steamroller just to make sure it’s dead. It doesn’t matter how many other bugs get crushed in the process. […]

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