My brother posted an item entitled "I found Jesus"
This is my response.
There are so few programs and people that are actually attempting to solve the problems that prisoners face, that people who are more concerned with "is this religious" than "does it work" are, to me, shameful. Too many people think that "Freedom of Religion" equals "Freedom from Religion". If the system was allowing a Christian group to set up a program like this, and at the same time refusing another group the same right, then there would be a problem. However, I don't see anyone else stepping up and facing the fact that most prisoners have no chance on the outside. Their options on release are either go back to the life and people they knew, and that got them in to prison in the first place, or attempt to start over with not money, no support, no experience, and no social structure that can help them make the right choices to keep them from going back.
A fundamental tenant of most Christian denominations is evangelism. Yet many people seem to feel that being told about another view of the world is a personal affront and that aspect of these people's faith should be repressed. They seem to think that a church having access to the prison is more harmful than the access that gangs have. Frequently these are the people who cry bigotry when someone says "I believe this behavior is immoral." and yet have no problem using the words "Christian" and "Republican" as epithets. To them, preventing Muslims or homosexuals access to the public areas is a major breach of the Constitution, but granting that access to Christians is an equal breach.
Yes, the government should keep it's hands off of personal belief. This includes religion, sexuality, and marriage. Unless the exercise of those beliefs causes harm to another person, there is no reason to supress them in any way. However, being exposed to other beliefs, even ones that tell me what I'm doing is wrong, does not harm me. If someone tells me that I am destined for Hell because I work in theatre (there are some who believe this), I am free to tell them I disagree, I am free to tell them they're going to Hell for being a bigot, I am free to attempt to convince them that they are wrong. I am free to ignore them, I am free to walk away. I am not free to tell them that because I disagree with them, they cannot speak to me.
At no point in the article does it indicate that there is a requirement to join a church, take an oath, espouse any particular creed. If people feel that what this group is doing is an unfair promotion of a specific religion, rather than trying to close down the program, and send the prisoners back to a population in which no effort is made to teach them the skills that they need to survive in the outside world, perhaps they should start their own programs to teach those skills without the religious aspect. Offer an alternative. While saying "If you eat your veggies, you can have some cake." may not be the best method, is denying both the veggies and the cake better?