Saturday, September 24, 2011
In the city of Bay Minette, Alabama, the powers that be have decided that their "non-violent offenders" would be better served by attending worship services in a Christianist church than by serving time in jail. Delusion rules.
According to the Huffington Post, "Starting next week, the program will allow a city judge to sentence misdemeanor offenders to work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine, or go to church every Sunday for a year."
Those people with even a rudimentary understanding of our Constitution will wonder how such a thing could happen. The U.S. Constitution is quite clear about government-sponsored religious activities and such things are forbidden! This program of the metropolis of Bay Minette is blatantly unconstitutional!
One of the things that has become clear in recent years is that fundamentalist Christians, wherever they have authority or power, attempt to change or willfully ignore the laws of the land to suit their religious beliefs. We have learned, to our dismay they pay only lip-service to the Constitution and that their religion trumps that document every time!
Thus, today there is, across our land, a concerted effort, well-funded by billionaires on the right, to destroy our public schools, to take away a woman's right to choose, to declare a fetus a "person," to outlaw contraceptive devices, to introduce phony American history in our schools, to keep our youth from studying evolution, to turn our military into an arm of the Christian Taliban, and all of this to reinforce their misguided notion that the U.S. was and is a "Christian" country.
In Bay Minette, we have small-town politicos who wish to turn the Establishment clause on its head and actually force people to attend a Christian church in order to avoid jail time and payment of a fine for a relatively minor infraction of the law! As the Alabama ACLU Executive Director said, "When the alternative is going to church or going to jail, the so-called 'choice' available to offenders is no choice at all."
One final note: Many, if not most, people in the United States today believe that Christians live more moral lives than non-Christians. This belief was expressed by Robert Gates, pastor of Christian Life Church in Bay Minette, Alabama, when he said, "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 but that will be an influence and a help to those around him."
Not so. In fact, studies have shown just the opposite. Self-described Christians are actually a bigger problem in society than non-Christians. As Richard Carrier points out in the book, The End of Christianity:
"The malignancy of the Nazi movement ... was undeniably a product of Christianity. [Hitler's "Final Solution" was almost identical to Martin Luther's suggestions on what to do about the Jews several centuries earlier!] But the Christian support of the American slave system for over two hundred years is America's own nightmarish example ...
"... naive Christianity is a perfect vehicle for manipulating masses of people toward any wicked end for which a Christian purpose can be conceived. The Holocaust, the Inquisition, antebellum slavery, and the genocide of American Indians are the most notorious examples. But war (of any sort) is the most common example, as well as (presently) the use of Christianity to turn the American people against helping the poor and instead toward promoting the libertine policies of the rich (a more blatant perversion of the teachings of Christ can hardly be imagines, yet behold its success)."
Today, studies in the U.S. have shown that there is no discernible difference in terms of moral behavior between Christians and non-Christians. In fact, in some cases, such as divorce, non-Christians have a better record.
What's happening in Alabama is part and parcel of a 2,000 year old movement to force people into some kind of Christian mold in the mistaken belief that will make them "good" or "moral," when in fact it has no moral impact whatsoever, because the Christian enterprise is morally corrupt at its core!
More importantly, however, what's happening in Alabama is a direct assault of one of our most cherished Constitutional principles. As such, and for that reason alone, it must be stopped and those city officials who instituted such a violation should be penalized appropriately.