A prisoner holding a Bible

Christianity is the dominant religion in America’s prisons. But does preferential treatment cause other religions (and their followers) to be disregarded?


Christianity has played a major role in the United States since before it was founded. It’s still the dominant religion in American, and many praise Christian values as the gold standard by which the country should base its morals. At the same time, our constitution’s first amendment guarantees American citizens that their government will not interfere with or promote any one religion.

But if there’s one group of people whose constitutional rights could perhaps be overlooked, it’s prisoners. Having been convicted of a crime, protecting the rights of these citizens sometimes falls by the wayside.

Enter the pro-Christian prison.

A correctional facility in Topeka, Kansas has been accused of distributing Christian propaganda and pressuring inmates to convert. The allegations stem from a lawsuit filed by a current inmate who insists their rights have been violated. According to the inmate, who practices the Thelema faith, prison officials have created a “coercive atmosphere where inmates are pressured to spend their time in a highly religious atmosphere and to participate in religious activities and prayers, thus violating the establishment clause.

Religion in the Big House

It should be noted: religion has never been on the outside looking in when it comes to criminal justice in America. Worship and prayer are mainstays in the prison system. In fact, most prisons in the United States have their own congregations and hold regular religious services. Many inmates even report “finding God” while behind bars.

Some prisoners worship privately, others with priests provided by the correctional facility. But the emphasis is, for the most part, on a single dominant religion: Christianity.

The “Others”

So, what about prisoners who practice faiths other than Christianity, such as Islam, Shinto, or, in this case, Thelema?  According to the lawsuit, the Kansas prison placed religious symbols and messages on bulletin boards, encouraged prayer requests, displayed Christian movies on facility televisions, and was generally pro-Christian all day, every day. Is it right for prisons to ignore those other faiths and (intentionally or not) force Christianity on all prisoners?

Can Christianity Rehabilitate Inmates?

Some argue that given their past crimes, prisoners could use a healthy dose of Christian values. What better way to get sinners to truly repent for their sins than to show them the teachings of Jesus? Plus, embracing Christianity will make them better members of society when they finally do get released.

While there are countless anecdotal examples out there, to our knowledge there are no official studies showing that converting to Christianity makes criminals less likely to end up back in prison.

However, let’s just assume for a moment that Christian influence genuinely helps inmates lead productive lives free from crime upon their release. That’s great, but what about the many other religions of the world? Is Christianity alone capable of achieving this result?

Taking Jesus Out of Prison

Back to the issue at hand. Given how closely intertwined Christianity is with the prison system, it’s hard to imagine prisons changing their ways. However, if the Kansas inmate’s lawsuit is successful, they might just have to. Could prisons of the future be entirely secular? They are under government control, after all. Maybe that’s the best course of action. Or perhaps prisons will simply be required to provide equivalent services for all religions practiced within its walls.

Do you support the inmate’s lawsuit?

 

93 comments

  1. Miranda Allison Young says:

    What they are doing is totally wrong and I hope he wins his lawsuit.

    1. John Smithkey says:

      I agree with Miranda Allison Young. We have the freedom of religion. This is why our country was founded. God gave us each the gift of “free will”. Each of us has the right to worship in any faith we want. John Smithkey III RN BSN

      1. John Owens says:

        Freedom OF religion is not always freedom FROM religion, in the sense that you can be free from being exposed to it. That is not in the Constitution. They don’t force them to believe. It’s not like Christians are forcing them to fornicate or drink blood or eat boogers or anything, anyway. You can’t be offended because I pray, and if you ask me a question and I answer it as truthfully as I can, you can’t be offended. Well, you can be, but you can’t expect me to be miserable just because you are. That’s all I’m saying.

        1. Dreamsinger says:

          If I “can’t be offended” because you pray as a Christian, then it stands to reason that you “can’t be offended” if I worship as a Pagan.

          As for the whole “they don’t force them to believe”, ask Jacob Andrew Crockett about that. Oh, wait — his college roommate, Isaiah Zoar Marin, was high on meth at the time he beheaded Crockett “for practicing witchcraft.” What’s worse, Marin was acquitted.

          Christians cannot claim to be the victims, when they’re the ones holding the swords.

          1. Jean malone says:

            NO one can truly force a true conversion . Perhaps misunderstood. They are trying to promote a better community for all prisoners . Jesus came to set us free from sin and shame , not condemnation. I don’t know why this person is in prison . Sue ?

          2. John Owens says:

            Well, I kinda have to doubt Marin’s conversion, but his actions should have condemned him to death anyway. As for pagans praying, I don’t see why they would bother, but it is nothing to me at all. Marin wasn’t trying to force Crockett to believe. Dead people don’t believe anything. I don’t know this story, but I don’t see how anyone high on meth could be using a sword to convince anyone to stop practicing witchcraft. It sounds a lot like an insanity defense.

      2. Wendy says:

        To provide only one kind of religion to a captive group without offering alternatives, and to have that done by the state? It does smack of state religion. And to practice or condone mistreatment based on someone not being Christian? That happens all the time out in the real world, but when it’s practiced by the state? Again, that’s scary.

        1. John Owens says:

          How are they mistreating the inmates of the other religions? There is no mention of that, unless you count encouraging them to participate. It is not a violation of civil rights to invite someone to a service or activity. The prison is not a democracy either, so the rules of government do not even apply here. They can legally make them do a lot of stuff that they don’t. The constitution says Congress shall pass no law regarding the establishment of religion. It does not say a prison administrator can’t make rules. They make rules all the time. The Bill of Rights does not really apply to inmates either in prison or in a mental institution. If it did, they would be totally unmanageable. Joseph must really be laughing at some of the people here who just jump on every little thing and talk about the Constitution. I try to explain it to them, but most just will not see.

          1. Minister Mika says:

            John the whole constitutional wording aside the prison is attempting to force their religious view on the inmates and that is not allowed.it is called Religious Freedom for a reason. Simply put,you cannot force someone to convert if they have no wish to do so. Yes, it may help but this is a double edged blade so to speak. By trying to forcr a person to convert you end up doing the exact opposite. The inmate is in the right while the prison is in the wrong. I hope the inmate wins his case.

          2. John Owens says:

            Once you are convicted of a felony and go to prison, you don’t have constitutional rights anymore. I cannot quote you the criminal code on it but that is the way it is.

          3. Dreamsinger says:

            Since the government isn’t allowed to establish or endorse a religion, John, that means America isn’t a Christian nation — or Christianity isn’t a religion. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways when it’s convenient.

            Not everyone says “Merry Christmas”, because Christians don’t look any different than a Muslim or Pagan. You guys don’t sport a mark on the forehead, you don’t have horns or tails, and many of you don’t wear crosses or have tattoos of them. So to the rest of the human species, we don’t know if you are or not — and we don’t care, it’s s frickin holiday!

            When shows like “Charmed” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” start airing on TV, Christians demand that the stations be boycotted for offending God and supporting Satanism. If your faith is that easily insulted or threatened by a fictional genre that other people — including Christians — enjoy, then you have no faith at all.

            Christians want the Ten Commandments placed as monolithic sculptures in front of secular courthouses. That being a violation of the Commandments aside, Christians demand that no other religion should be allowed to display their own works of faith — just Christians because America is based on Biblical law.

            Yet if anyone points out that it would be no different than Islam establishing Shari’a law in America, Christians will threaten and torment those folks for questioning God.

            You guys can’t even keep Leviticus straight, and most Christians don’t even know that King James the First was an open homosexual when he pitched his version of the Bible to the Church at the start of the 1600s.

            Yep. Quoting Scripture from a homosexual’s Bible to justify committing hate crimes and violence against homosexuals… definitely no different than Shari’a.

            Or Westboro Baptist.

            You’re a decent fellow, John, but your words defile your heart. You don’t have to like everyone, but you can’t hate everyone either.

        2. John Smithkey says:

          I agree with Wendy. When a captive group of people are only given one kind of religion, the end result is never a healthy outcome. This country was founded on the freedom of worship. Have a blessed day! JOHN SMITHKEY III RN BSN

          1. Dreamsinger says:

            I agree with John and Wendy on this. Any type of forced captivity that includes religious indoctrination usually doesn’t have a healthy outcome. Prisons, trafficking (in my case), cults (my friend, Alex, who got mixed up with the Scientologists in L.A. years ago), it really messes with your head.

            You can’t successfully deprogram from the hate, the fear, and the violence that is almost always required to force a person to convert. The whole concept of “convert or die” is a subversion of free will, it isn’t even consent. It’s a form of psychological assault, and prison is bad enough as it is.

            What would Jesus do? Certainly not that.

          2. John Owens says:

            In the first place, the prison cannot PROVIDE them with services and instruction in every religion. Many religions have no outreach, and others do not have outreach to those in prison. MANY (not all) people in prison are there because they have not been adequately instructed in right/acceptable and wrong/unacceptable behavior. Christianity teaches this. I am not saying no other religion teaches it but perhaps the others have not made themselves available at this prison, or not passed whatever litmus test or jumped through bureaucratic hoops to have themselves approved to teach there. Some of the outrage here is a little bit uncalled-for, without broadening the scope of the available information on this particular case.

    2. Otto Ball says:

      Prisons in Pa give inmates freedom to chose what they believe and attend services of their choosing. We should not stop inmates from having the same rights we on the outside share. I am a Christian and yes I speak forth what I believe. Thankfully in the USA we still have a few rights . the rights we were quartered the freedom of speech the freedom of press and the freedom of religion.

    3. Allen says:

      For them to push Christianity is completely wrong. I left Christianity because it is completely non biblical. The name HeZeus / Jesus came from The Druids savior, that died 834 BCE. Lord is a translation of the word Baal. God is the name of an idol in the Old Testament found only a couple places. Every one of the Christian holy days is a pagan Festival of some sort. None of it comes from the Bible. They don’t follow the Sabbath or any of the Holy Days commanded by the Creator, named Yahuah. Nine out of 10 Christians don’t even know his name. I’m not opposed to have it the Bible in prisons or the freedom of religion in prisons. I’m opposed to pushing his fake Pagan religion on captives. I am a Yahudah, a worshipper of Yahuah. It is the true religion that follows the Creator according to the Bible. Christians vehemently opposed the worship of the Yahuah.

      1. Dreamsinger says:

        Pagan here — as it harm none, do as ye will. 🙂 Out of curiosity, is Yahuah still married to Asherah?

        1. Allen says:

          Dreamsinger. I’m not sure how your question refers to Christianity being pushed in the jail. However, Yahuah never mentioned being married to the made up Asherah/the Sun. Asherah is mentioned in the Holy Scripture though, and that it is Pagan beliefs. I study from a copy of the oldest Hebrew text available. Yahuah, in HIS book, outlined specifically how he wanted to be worshipped as the Creator. I studied with Catholics, Baptist, wiccans, pagans, Native Americans, and Jews. My point above is that, Since I chose to accept the word of Yahuah, I left Christianity because they don’t follow a single word of it. So I believe it should not be pushed in jails hiding behind them twisting the Bible.😀

      2. John Owens says:

        Allen. I just returned from Sukhot. Greetings.

        1. Allen says:

          John Owens, shalom

    4. Jez says:

      I agree strongly with you Miranda! People can be and are good without religion!
      It’s never the government’s place to push (or……”establish”) any religion!
      Thank you M.A.Y.

  2. Jess Martin says:

    Thelema? Give me a break. This guy just wants attention ( or maybe he has a demon, or heartburn ). But regardless, Gov’t should be a religiously tolerant environment w/out preference to any creed unless it involves illegal activities.

  3. Clarice Grantt says:

    I am not quite sure but I have witnessed many inmates convert over in the prison system while being an LCDC there. I would say it helps them to getting pass the immediate situation of their crimes but is short lived after release unfortunately.

    Minister Clarice Grantt

  4. revconner says:

    I wouldn’t want Christianity shoved down my throat if I was in jail or in a mental institution, and I have been in a mental institution and they do wave their Christian banners. They have no outlets for Wiccans, Hindus, or Buddhists or so forth. I think they need to try and give something for everyone as long as it is within reason and request-able without harming others.

    1. John Owens says:

      The fact that you were in a mental institution and dislike Christianity might tell you something, if you were of a mind to learn anything, Conner.

      1. Wendy says:

        You know, John, you’re the kind of person who makes other people hate Christianity. Not sure who you’re channeling there, but it certainly doesn’t sound like anything Jesus would have said. You are definitely part of the problem.

        1. John Owens says:

          Wendy, of what problem are you speaking? I made a VERY COGENT, VALID point. If you can’t see it, that’s because you are blind. Christians are definitely statistically LESS LIKELY to end up in a mental institution than NON-CHRISTIANS. That is a statistical fact.
          Just because you are self-righteous, doesn’t make you righteous. If I was saying similar stuff about Christians, you’d be sniffling all up my butt with praise. You don’t speak for Christ. You don’t know Christ or even who He is. You just want to use Jesus as a means of shutting me up because I speak reason, which is anathema to you and yours.
          Jesus prophesied of people like you. I don’t hate you. If you knew enough to argue with me, you’d agree with me anyway. Pray for wisdom and eat more fiber.

          1. Wendy says:

            Bizarre. The fact that you think that was cogent or valid, or that anything you said in that reply to me made sense would seem to indicate that you might not be functioning at an entirely perfect level of sanity. You should definitely get that extreme paranoia checked out. That’s not normal.

          2. John Owens says:

            What is bizarre, is that in NONE of your little Chihuahua attacks on me, have you said anything relevant, informative, or even remotely intelligent. The fact you can’t see that what I said was cogent, shows you are low-functioning or willfully ignorant. You didn’t answer about what “problem” you were speaking, and you didn’t address my statements directly. Most likely because you don’t know enough to do either. Perhaps Wendy should be spelled Windy, and I don’t know of what extreme paranoia you speak. Again, I don’t suppose you’d grace us with some evidence? You just throw crap out and expect it to be relevant. You haven’t said anything except that you don’t like me. If you weren’t acting imbecilic I might care, but I was taught to be kind to special people.

          3. Lone says:

            John YOU JUDGE OTHERS much.

          4. John Owens says:

            Lone, ONLY the ones who jump me to start with. I don’t draw first blood, but if they are stupid enough to mess with me, they are stupid enough for me to call them stupid. Don’t start no trouble and there won’t be none.

          5. Frances Gumm says:

            John, what evidence is there that non-Christians are more likely to end up in a mental institution than Christians? What are the statics and from what research study? Please cite your source and the numbers to back up your statement.

          6. John Owens says:

            No time. Gotta run. Be back in 9 days. Au revoir! Keep fussing, though.

          7. Minister Mika says:

            And that reply right there makes me wonder if he even knows what he speaks of. To speak but not have the proof to back it and when asked to provide proof he runs.What is this world coming to….?

          8. Wendy says:

            Frances Gumm, actually I could see that being true because so many Christians refuse to accept the physiological causes of mental illness. They also refuse to accept that their religious practices can cause mental illness. It isn’t that Christians are less likely to need hospitilization, it’s that they refuse to get treatment. Here are a couple of interesting articles:
            http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2016.110706

            https://www.salon.com/2014/11/01/the_sad_twisted_truth_about_conservative_christianitys_effect_on_the_mind_partner/

          9. Dreamsinger says:

            From John’s argument:

            “You don’t speak for Christ. You don’t know Christ or even who He is. You just want to use Jesus as a means of shutting me up because I speak reason, which is anathema to you and yours.”

            With all due respect, nobody speaks for Christ except Christ himself. Knowing who Christ is (technically, WAS), and what he stood for, is a lifelong journey; one does not simply wake up one morning and have the ability to walk on water.

            Regarding “because I speak reason”… if there ever comes a day when I’m seen as “the voice of reason”, we’re all screwed. If you want that honor, John, by all means please take that cup from my lips!

          10. John Owens says:

            Hey, Mika, I wasn’t RUNNING. Y’all wish I was. It was late in the day and I was LEAVING for vacation with a lengthy drive ahead of me. As for documentation, y’all can look at that. It’s a well-known and verifiable FACT that children raised with one father AND one mother in a religious home with values and the social support and moral enforcement that comes from being a part of a church are less likely to commit crimes, become substance abusers or be committed to a mental institution. They will be more likely to be thrifty, responsible, and successful in their relationships. THEREFORE, Christianity as a whole would qualify as a factor which would greatly reduce the chances of any of those undesirable outcomes and increase the desirable ones.

            NEVERTHELESS, Because I know those of you who believe one lifestyle is just as valid as another, REGARDLESS of what fruit it bears, here are just a few references for you, which took about two minutes to find.

            http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1414-81452015000100107&script=sci_arttext&tlng=en

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X97100158

            http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/026537880001700408?journalCode=trna

            http://recapp.etr.org/recapp/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.topicsinbriefdetail&PageID=42

            https://www.onfaith.co/onfaith/2013/06/18/can-faith-prevent-teen-pregnancy/10394

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927880/

  5. Todd says:

    Only in America does a prisoner ha e more rights than a person who does not commit crimes. Tv, movies, games, free education, I say go back a few decades. Prisons are punishment. Japan does not coddle their prisoners.. go to Mexico and see how their conditions are. Prisoners have no rights they gave them up when they committed a crime

    1. Stacy A Pifher says:

      Prisons has to provide tv games etc. This keeps the prisoners busy and less likely for a major riot. They have = rights under the us consitutiin. I would not want any religion or failth pushed on me no matter where I am at. So yes this case has merit and he has a good chance at winning

      1. John Owens says:

        Yeah. We all know watching TV and playing games makes us better, more balanced citizens and neighbors.

    2. Amber Fry says:

      I don’t know, In some countries they get rehabilitated properly and few return to jail. Here we treat citizens under certain income levels as garbage all the while make sure prisoners are fed, clothed and housed. The sad thing is, without any kind of retraining they end up back there. I’ve heard of some who have no skills or who can’t get work because they either don’t have skills for a job that covers basic living, or can’t be hired because they were incarcerated will purposely commit a non violent crime knowing they at least get a meal and a place to sleep off the streets. I understand violent criminals being put away for good but stupid little things, minor theft and the like, they do these things because they make more and live better being criminals than they do being honest and working 2 or 3 low income jobs. This is the result of a lack of free or at least very low cost trade schools and health care because mental health also plays a large part of this.

      1. Jeannie says:

        Amber thank you for posting this.

    3. Dreamsinger says:

      Been to Mexico, and I can safely say that the prisoners there get treated quite humanely and with respect. There was a Mormon family in Tepic, their loncheria had a contract with the local jail to provide hot meals for detainees awaiting booking. INM (their version of ICE) in Mexico City isn’t exactly the Waldorf-Astoria, but it certainly isn’t the torture chamber that American movies portray it as.

      Keep in mind, Todd, Mexico is a lot more structured and regimented in how they operate prisons because of the drug cartels that essentially have a gentlemen’s agreement with the government and law enforcement officials. Sorta like the Yakuza, but in Spanish.

      I was actually pretty impressed by the facility’s operations.

  6. James says:

    Typical crybaby crap. If their dads had been okay off their lives, moms been there, only if…. They are bad people. Good and their souls. But their bodies are corrupt and should be dealt with by any means necessary. It is a sad day when prisoners are taken better care of than our vets.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      Quite a few of those prisoners happen to be vets, thanks to the criminalization of homelessness, poverty, and PTSD.

      Care to rephrase that, sir?

  7. Dr. RG Rivera says:

    Since the man of Nazareth sets the captives free from sin and death.
    The filing law suits while in prison is an entirely different matter left to us
    to decide upon on a U.S. Constitution basis.
    Jesus of Nazareth has already delegated what must be done.

    The victim will always be the one individual who must present convincing
    evidence to the outnumbering mobs who have not been assigned a viewpoint and
    experience… not happening to them.

    This is America we can sue when we need to…prison or not in prison.
    AMERICANS FIRST…all in order of priorities.

  8. John Owens says:

    I’m glad to see that more and more rational conservative thinkers are speaking up here. We can’t keep encouraging the crybabies. If their mommas and daddies (which many probably didn’t have BOTH) had raised those convicts in a Christian church, a lot of them wouldn’t be there in the first place. Any prison guard will tell you that most convicts have no sense of right and wrong. If you can get away with it, it’s all right. If you want to rehabilitate, you have to teach them right from wrong. That means a moral code that does not encourage harm to others, but will stand against violence if necessary. Like our founding citizens. I don’t see a lot of atheists trying to help convicts.

    1. Stacy A Pifher says:

      John Owens: here you go again judging. You have no idea how people is raised!

      1. John Owens says:

        Having an opinion is not “judging”, although if I were judging, I’d judge you to be a crying lefty who hates God and all who try to be good, but hey, I’m not judging. I just know MOST people in prison wouldn’t be in prison if they hadn’t done something terribly wrong, and most of them MORE THAN ONCE. I have worked as interpreter for courts and police and lawyers and family court for many years. I’m not talking OUT OF MY BACKSIDE, LIKE SOME PEOPLE DO HERE.

        1. JOHN MAHER says:

          YES AGAIN BOOGER OWINS you NAMED YOURSELF,ARSEHOLE !!! HAVE YOU EVER BEEN to PRISON ??? MAYBE a MENTAL INSTITUTION ??? VERBAL DIARRHEA !!! OPINIONS are as ARSEHOLES WE ALL KNOW ONE, KEEP YOUR OPINION to a SUBJECT U KNOW, WHICH from WHAT EYE SEE BOOGER is YER ARSEHOLE, DUMP the IGNORAMAS COWARD CRIMINAL TRAITOR ORANGUtRUMP and LOCK UP JARED KUSHNER,GOD is GREAT so is the US of A

        2. Dreamsinger says:

          Opinions are emotional context, which is not the same as factual content. So yes, you are judging.

          Even a Devil’s Advocate couldn’t acquit you on that charge, John.

    2. Wendy says:

      You actually don’t see much at all. You obviously have absolutely no idea about moral codes because you refuse to believe that anyone who is not a Christian can be a good person. I have no idea how anyone can claim to be a Christian and act and speak so very far from the teachings of Jesus. And this is overwhelmingly the face of Christianity that the world sees. When I was growing up, Mother Teresa was the worldwide face of Christianity. She truly embodied what it means to be a Christian.

      1. JOHN MAHER says:

        YOU are of GOOD OPINION WENDY, Mr. OWENS WOULD APOLOGIZE if HE COULD BUTT HIS IGNORANCE WOULD NEVER ALLOW IT ORAGUtRUMP SYNDROME, BIG MOUTH VERBAL DIARRHEA, YOU SISTER WENDY are of GOOD HEART and MIND.

      2. John Owens says:

        WHEN THE HELL DID I SAY THAT A PERSON CAN’T BE GOOD IF THEY ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN? COPY AND PASTE, PLEASE. ALSO TELL ME HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN. If you can’t, you owe it to yourself to shut up because you are making a fool of yourself. YOU ARE MAKING CRAP UP BECAUSE YOUR HEAD IS FULL OF LIES AND STUPIDITY.
        As for moral codes and Mother Teresa, is that what you embody, Wendy? Seems like you can’t stand reason or truth, to me. You are going to speak for Christ? If you can do that, then tell me what the seven thunders said. I’ve always wanted to know.
        Maher just praised you. It probably makes you feel good, but it should show you how far our you are, if he is praising you. He’s a mental case and everyone here knows it.

        1. John Owens says:

          …how far out you are…

      3. Allen says:

        M Teresa certainly was the face of Christianity. She followed all the Pagan festivals perfectly. She didn’t follow a single one of the holydays Yahuah requested, as evidence that we are his children. Pagan practices do not be long in the family of Yahuah. Reference, the Bible. Hence, Christianity should not be forced in prison. Freedom of religion, including Pagan practices should be allowed not forced.

  9. Wendy says:

    Those are actually good questions. What you say and how you react here are so in-line with the radical evangelical Christian right that I just assumed. It’s hard not to. So let’s change that to “a person can’t be good if they don’t agree with your radical-evangelical-Christian-far-right-like moral code and if they believe scientific evidence that is in opposition to that moral code.” Sorry if I offended you by calling you a Christian.
    Next…as an engineer and scientist, reason, truth, logic, facts…that’s what I do. Rejecting science, as you do, would seem to indicate that you actually can’t stand reason or truth and that you have no desire to consider reason or truth because it doesn’t fit your moral code.
    Since I’m not a Christian, I certainly do not embody Mother Teresa. I don’t know if that’s the most idiotic statement you made or the second most idiotic. My moral code is none of your business, and the things I do to help people are also none of your business. I will, however, share a few of my favorite quotes:
    Peace begins with a smile..
    If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
    Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
    The speaking for Christ thing is also in the running for most idiotic thing. Stories (aside from that moneychanger event) about Jesus show a patient teacher who helped people regardless of who they were, what their beliefs were, what their history was. He treated everyone with respect and encouraged love. He didn’t run around spewing messages of hate.

    1. John Owens says:

      Show me a message of hate that I “spewed” (more evidence of heavy indoctrination– you say SPEW. Even your attempts at insult are just parroting other dumbasses). It is really difficult to SPEW with a keyboard.

      You just said this:
      “Since I’m not a Christian, I certainly do not embody Mother Teresa. I don’t know if that’s the most idiotic statement you made or the second most idiotic. My moral code is none of your business, and the things I do to help people are also none of your business.”

      Yet before, you said these things to me:

      “You obviously have absolutely no idea about moral codes because you refuse to believe that anyone who is not a Christian can be a good person. I have no idea how anyone can claim to be a Christian and act and speak so very far from the teachings of Jesus. And this is overwhelmingly the face of Christianity that the world sees. When I was growing up, Mother Teresa was the worldwide face of Christianity. She truly embodied what it means to be a Christian.”

      So I am telling YOU THIS: You said it was idiotic because I said you were trying to speak for Christ. Well, Wenchy, when YOU try to tell ME how a Christian is SUPPOSED to act, you ARE trying to speak for Christ. YOU JUDGED that Mother Teresa “truly embodied what it means to be a Christian.”

      You said you are NOT a Christian, so WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?

      Then you said,

      ” I will, however, share a few of my favorite quotes:
      Peace begins with a smile..
      If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
      Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

      Yeah, I can see you are ray of sunshine and a REAL factual, literal, truthful scientist. I’m sorry for you. I don’t know how you can be so deceived.

      1. Bernard Moleman says:

        Liberals have been tainted by demons, John. There is NO POINT arguing with those who betray GOD by murdering babies and fornicating wantonly.

        Before I am CENSORED (common liberal tactic) by ULC I should comment on the article at hand. These liberal ungodly prisoners should thank their lucky stars that the state is trying to show them the way of God. Perhaps they can repent to Jesus and grow a heart, spine and brain.

        1. John Owens says:

          Stay with me, Bernard. Someone has to keep the liberal trolls from taking over the blog, because there are people whose willful ignorance is not yet set in stone, that we may rescue from total darkness through reason. I’ll wrestle alone against them, but I’m old, tired, and busy, and I’d rather have others struggling on the same side as me if possible.

      2. Wendy says:

        This would be a perfect example of that hate I was talking about. I actually don’t use the word “spew” often, and I only use it when it’s appropriate. The definition of spew is “expel large quantities of (something) rapidly and forcibly.” Again, you just gave a perfect example of spewing.

        1. John Owens says:

          You’re a moron trying to talk to a sane person. Nothing anyone can say will be anything BUT hate to you unless it concurs with your stupid fantasy. I’m not hating. I’m being kind.

          1. John Owens says:

            AND YOU NEVER GAVE AN EXAMPLE, BECAUSE AGAIN, YOU’RE A MORON. …AND BTW, I’M STILL BEING KIND, WENCHY.

      3. Dreamsinger says:

        If you have to ask us to remind you of where you misspoke, then it wasn’t important to hear the first time.

        The mind clouds the heart.

  10. Wendy says:

    Like I said, you’ve just proven my point. Again. And again. And again.

    So, since you’ve devolved completely into immature name calling, I take great pleasure in saying, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. What you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

    1. John Owens says:

      And, I rest my case, Ladies and Gentlemen. LOL!

      1. Wendy says:

        You sunk to the level of immature name calling, as you so often do. I responded in kind. If you want to be mature and polite, great. Otherwise, you’re a complete waste of time.

        1. John Owens says:

          Oh yeah, and your schoolyard rhyme is MATURE. Nothing you said has any meaning at all, so stop flirting with me, please.

  11. Jeannie says:

    This is another example of our country’s correctional system gone wrong. I found God while behind bars and as I do 100% agree if there is any one place that needs religion it is our prison system, however, because a person is in the system, NOBODY has the right to force a belief in any person. Prisoner rights are violated everyday but because they ” are criminals” these people are forgotten about and treated as though they are unworthy to still be entitled to any personal freedoms of choice. The prison system needs to encourage all faiths and allow that person to practice their chosen faith as part of their rehabilition program. The term is CORRECTIONS. Lets bring God into the lives of these men and women anyway we can and help them to CORRECT their lives so that in the outside, they will be more inclined to follow Christ and less likely to commit another crime.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      You cannot bring something into a person’s life, when it was never absent to begin with. — Eckhart Tolle, “The Power of Now”

  12. Wayne Bowlby says:

    Peace is the answer. Christians have killed enmass in the name of God!!! This is a bad rule and christians as well as non-christians need to say NO TO THIS POLICY!!
    What makes a human a christian? Jesus only had the old Aramaic Old Testament and Parables. What would he say today. Our prisons are full of non-violent (criminals?).
    WAYNE Bowlby

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      All humans are born with the capacity for genocide and for love, except genocide has to be taught. This is true of any faith, religion, or belief system.

      Even when hatred and violence is taught, it is up to each person to decide if it’s a lesson worth practicing. As horrible as Christians may seem at first glance, the majority don’t endorse the extremists’ behavior at all. They just don’t brandish the torches and pitchforks the way Tony Perkins’ followers tend to, in how they handle it.

  13. June says:

    The Christians have taken to sticking the bible and their noses into the government and other peoples business. This is not what Christ wanted from them, they were to go out and teach Christ’s ways not take over our government and try to get their agenda mixed into the government . No one should be forced to believe in a god that is not proactive.

    1. John Owens says:

      Just as the atheists and pagans have done with their vain philosophies and socialism. THOSE and their LACK of values should not be forced on anyone.

      1. Dreamsinger says:

        As a Pagan I appreciate the compliment, considering Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism, which utilized much of our basic tenets and symbols. You’re absolutely right, our philosophies, our sense of community, and our lack of Christian values should never be forced on anyone.

        We let the Christians handle that mess.

  14. Jeff says:

    Two things have to be asked here? Can a prison force inmates to convert to Christianity? The simple answer is NO. And this institution has not forced anyone to accept Christianity. It has provided the literature and the availability for these men to make their own decisions, and before you jump up and down about the Christian propaganda being the only religious material available consider this…Several years ago a suit was filed against the military because a Christian organization was providing Bibles for recruits, one of the recruits was offended, contacted a legal group to file suit to make them stop. In the investigation it was determined that the military did not pay for nor did they fund the Bibles, they were given out of charity. So it was determined that all religions would be given an opportunity to provide literature for the new recruits, guess what, Christians were the only ones to respond. Lets now ask this question, are there networks showing Buddists shows, Islamic shows and in this case Thelema shows? NO. So to provide entertainment that is morally sound, Christian TV would be the only source, network TV is just the opposite. And has any other religion stepped forward to offer its Holy Books and writings? My guess would be NO. Sowe shouldn’t jump to political conclusions before the facts are in.
    Now my second point, which is related to the first, this prisoner is a practitioner of the Thelema faith. Do you know what that is? If you look it up the propaganda will state its a religion, or philosophy of Love, but in actuality the main principle is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”. In other words, do whatever you want. Murder, rape, whatever its OK. It was created by Aleister Crowley, who has the distinction of being one of the 10 most evil people in modern history. Read up on Mr Crowley and his religion. This young man needs moral direction.

  15. Heather says:

    Including a link to public documents supporting claims in these articles would be helpful in differentiating news from anecdotal speculation. In this case, the prisoner is Shari Webber-Dunn. While her gender shouldn’t play a factor in our opinion, those eager to give one seem to readily identify the prisoner as “he/him”.
    Citation of source info goes a long way to conducting adequate personal research when asking others to weigh in on something of this magnitude. Otherwise it comes across as sensationalism.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      So if you wanted the information handed to you on a silver platter, why are you upset that the writer succeeded in motivating you to do your own research?

      Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s a terrible excuse.

  16. Jim says:

    I would like to know what form of torture did the prison use to force the inmates to convert to Christianity. Oh, yeah. They passed out pamphlets. Oh, the humanity!

    Why aren’t there other religions passing out stuff and trying to get inmates to convert? Because only Christians actively recruit. When was the last time you saw a Jewish missionary? You haven’t, because they don’t exist. Christians have been sending out missionaries for decades. They send them to the deepest darkest jungles to convert natives. Did the natives really need Jesus, or were they perfectly happy with their lives the way they were? Every once in a while, the missionaries would try to convert a tribe of cannibals. That usually didn’t work out well for the missionaries. Yeah, good times.

    Jews don’t recruit at all. They really don’t want anybody else. If someone wants to become Jewish, they have to take classes and pass tests. To become a Christian you just need a pulse, and I’m not sure they are really strict about that either.

    Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door and want to have a chat with me and leave reading materials. You know who doesn’t come to my door? Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Pagans, Wicca’s, Druids, Agnostics, Atheists, Rastafarians, Shintos, Taoists, and anyone that still prays to any of the Egyptian, Roman, and Norse gods. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think, for Christians, it’s all about the numbers. I mean, why would Mother Theresa go to India? They already had a few religions with which they were happy, and I don’t think she when there for the cuisine. I think she went there because there’s a billion people there! I’m sure the Pope selected her as Salesperson of the Year! Now that she’s gone, and a good chunk of Indians are Catholics, are they better off? Have you seen “Slum Dog Millionaire” or “Lion?” I don’t think they are.

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      The reason Pagans, Druids, and Wiccans don’t stop by to chat and leave reading materials is because we don’t recruit people. If you’re a Pagan, a Druid, or a Witch, you’ll figure it out on your own eventually; if you’re not, it isn’t going to be a concern at all to you.

      Also, the numbers game is pointless when everyone reincarnates anyway.

  17. Bill Fox says:

    You cannot “force” someone to accept salvation. You can force them to appear to be converted, which may be the wrong thing to do in a prison full of con artists.

  18. Waya says:

    The following is quoted from a speech by Orator Red Jacket of the Seneca Nation to a representative of a Boston Missionary Society, after listening and considering the Missionary’s request for allowing him to preach more in-depth to the Seneca Nation. Though recorded in 1805 (212 years ago), and though Native Americans did not have religious freedom until 1979, the words remain still quite timely.

    “Brother, continue to listen. You say you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost; how do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book; if it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given it to us, and not only to us, but why did he not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?

    “Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit; if there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book?

    “Brother, we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers, and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us their children. We worship that way. It teacheth us to be thankful for all the favors we receive; to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion.”

    “Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you; we only want to enjoy our own.”

    We all, under the Bill of Rights, have Freedom of Religion. So long as that exercise of Religion does not affect or endanger the rights of others, it should be respected, whether encarcerated or free.

  19. Tammy says:

    There is no crime in Christ however Christ is not here to save men from crime. All religions, once the dogma is removed, speak only of Love. They teach forgiveness for others and for the Self.

    Prison is full of people who do not know themselves, therefore they don’t know what Love Is.

    I suggest a course that will help them individually find the way to That Love by and through the entanglement in each their own mind.

    People on the outside can’t find time to do this for themselves, prisoners have time. Their change of mind and heart will heal not only themselves but perhaps many.

    Religion is best keep for people on the outside who need their ears tickled with stories rather than journeying within to find Truth, to find The Christ they speak of.

    Respectfully

    1. Dreamsinger says:

      I like your suggestion. How about gardening and cooking? Both have helped heal my anger and pain immensely, and I wouldn’t be where I am in life today without those two hobbies.

    2. Waya says:

      I like it as well. To choose to believe or not is a right that should be guaranteed to all. We have people in this country who seem to want not a democracy, but a theocracy, and sadly, it is coming from the Christian Right-Wing (namely some Evangelical TV Ministers, who clearly want President Trump to do what they say) and unfortunately, to gain their support (and votes) Trump is listening to them. It certainly is not what the Founding Fathers ever wanted. If one believes the words of Christ Himself, “It is easier for a camel to fit through the Eye of a Needle than a rich man to get to Heaven” than these guys unfortunately would build a giant size needle. You have but only to look at our President’s responses to two different crises in the past week. Puerto Rico, he was absolutely cruel and treated like a third world country acting for favors. Vegas, where Trump owns a casino and the money lost will affect his bottom line, that he did a moment of silence for. What about the lives lost in Houston, San Juan, and other locations? Or do lives solely matter where a Trump Tower and Casino are available?

      1. Waya says:

        I am not saying that the lives in Vegas lost were any less than those lost in the Hurricane tragedies, only that all lives deserve the same respect and treatment. It is just that to the Administration that certain lives are more important than others. What kind of a leader says that? Oh, that’s right. Andrew Jackson, whose Presidential Portrait hangs in Trump’s office, who spearheaded the Indian Removal Act and has the blood on his hands of thousands of innocents who died on the Trail of Tears. One guy studied his treatment of the Indians and used Jackson’s idea of the “stockade holding pens” for his plans for the Jews. Adolf Hitler learned a lot from Jackson. If we don’t learn from the past…..What’s next? A stockade for those who don’t follow Trump’s version of Christian religion? Wouldn’t surprise me….

        1. Tammy says:

          The point is that the Trump, Vegas, and natural disaster concerns you have articulated are not the concerns of the prisoners. Like religion, those happenings seem to entertain the minds of those in the world; prisoners being on the fringe…

          Prisoners would benefit and begin helping the outside world by learning to reconcile their own mind and heart by going within. Does this make sense to you? A Self study course with weekly gatherings…and perhaps gardening and arts would benefit the inmates now and US now.

          InLight of Love
          Tammy

          1. Waya says:

            Tammy, I agree that anything positive (having a son myself who has gone through the prison system) is a healing force for the mind, the spirit and the heart. Creation, even if it is as small as a single plant growing from a seed that a prisoner planted, is definitely a positive thing that adds to the world. The spirit has to be respected with the choice to choose a religion that is the prisoner’s decision, not those in power with the authority to punish if the prisoner does not adhere to the doctrine of others. That is the least we can allow. Having seen also the horrific conditions of religious schools set up by the Federal Government to “Kill the Indian, save the man,” to tear apart the soul of a human being by forcing a single doctrine on those not of that faith has disastrous consequences. In an environment like a prison, the spirit and soul are the only thing left to the prisoner to keep him/her sane.

            I love your signature. Wonderful idea, and I agree with the notion. Allow me to add mine.

            Dohiyi (Peace),

            Waya

  20. Allen says:

    For them to push Christianity is completely wrong. I left Christianity because it is completely non biblical. The name HeZeus / Jesus came from The Druids savior, that died 834 BCE. Lord is a translation of the word Baal. God is the name of an idol in the Old Testament found only a couple places. Every one of the Christian holy days is a pagan Festival of some sort. None of it comes from the Bible. They don’t follow the Sabbath or any of the Holy Days commanded by the Creator, named Yahuah. Nine out of 10 Christians don’t even know his name. I’m not opposed to have it the Bible in prisons or the freedom of religion in prisons. I’m opposed to pushing his fake Pagan religion on captives. I am a Yahudah, a worshipper of Yahuah. It is the true religion that follows the Creator according to the Bible. Christians vehemently opposed the worship of the Yahuah.

    1. Waya says:

      Which name of the Creator is correct and please, what is your source? I have heard and read (for the name of the Creator) IAM, Yahweh and Jehovah, in the three versions of the Holy Bible I have read (New American, Living Bible, King James Bible).

  21. Guairdean says:

    From the article: “coercive atmosphere where inmates are pressured to spend their time in a highly religious atmosphere and to participate in religious activities and prayers”. The first two words of that sentence tell all. No one can be coerced into faith, acceptance must come from the heart. You can only force piety, not true faith. True faith will last a lifetime, piety will fade more quickly than the sound of the prison door closing as they are released.

    1. Waya says:

      And people wonder at the success of “The Handmaid’s Tale” at the emmys and in viewership.

  22. Joanne Martin (Spiritual Advisor) says:

    I have found this upsetting for quite a few years. Forcing a person into Christianity because they have no other outlets and not other information to achieve peace and eventually empathy and compassion for their actions. Not every person the goes to prison is a Christian. yes I believe some finally have teachers and find themselves solace in its teachings, however, there are many that either avoid any spirituality (which I am sure the majority of will agree that this lack of a spiritual self often attributes to the actions that found them in trouble) and therefore rehabilitation without any kind of understanding of a alternate way of thinking and path to follow, is not going to happen.

    As a spiritualist (I dont identify with any specific religion, yet I am educated in most of the worlds religions and know what aspects are right for me) I became ordained and have been researching for my goal which is to be a prison minister. I dont think they should feel helpless and hopeless for a better life or existence just because the teachings of Christianity dont seem to make sense or speak to the person. I believe there would be a higher success rate of eliminating repeat offenders if they could truly find a sense of peace from i think themselves through spirituality with the label of a certain religion. I am not implying that a spiritual self alone will convert criminals into model citizens, but for the many that have turned to Christianity and found a new purpose when they have been released is proof that it can make a difference. So why not give more inmate the opportunity to find the same meaning in their life but opening up the teaching and groups to discuss spirituality as a whole not as a constricted religion….

    I will say that any literature I have read on prison ministries have been written solely based on teaching Christianity and nothing else. I want to make sure I am fully prepared and educated before I consult with any institutions regarding volunteering my time, but I am beginning to realize it may not be as easy to offer my time when it comes to this subject.

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