Sunday, August 16, 2009

Religious Passages Censored from Mother's Letters to Inmate

This is the USA, by golly! We have freedoms! We have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, right! Well, of course we understand that free speech doesn't include yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. And we understand that free religion doesn't include human sacrifice.

We also assume that we treat prisoners fairly, even though they gave up certain rights (i.e.freedom) by their crimes. But we provide Qur'ans, for example, to Islamic prisoners even though we captured them as part of a war on terror.

But maybe that's not as true in Rappahannock Regional Jail in northern Virginia. The Christian mother of an inmate has been sending him letters that include religious thoughts and quotes from the Bible. The prison classified the category of censorship as "Religious Material from Home." Censored material include passages from Proverbs, the Book of James and the Book of Matthew.

I read about this and wondered if there was a hidden reason for this that might make sense. However, I became more sure that the prison's actions are unreasonable when I learned that a very diverse collections of groups is protesting the prison's actions, including the Becket Fund, the Rutherford Institute, Prison Fellowship, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union.

I'm afraid that this is yet another example where one of a right we don't really have is freedom of religion. That is not in keeping with the Constitution. There is a reason that the First rights addressed in the First Amendment (of the Bill of Rights) were religious rights.

Read more on the story here:

Jail officials censored mother's letters over religious content

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