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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Colson Fights Terrorism

Recently, I wrote about Watergate figure Charles Colson. At that time, Colson was all bent out of shape over criticism of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson's pretty much identical stands on stem cell research. Colson had written an article titled, "Who Is Funding Attacks on Christians?" -- as if all christians had the same position as the nutjobs on the religious right.

If mere criticism of religious crazies was enough to get Colson's irish up, imagine what this news might've done to him:

Working for Change:

[...]

In June, however, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt, chief judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, handed Colson's operation a setback. Judge Pratt ruled in favor of a suit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Americans United) which claimed that IFI's [InnerChange Freedom Initiative ] operation at Iowa's Newton Correctional Facility violated the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

Judge Pratt ordered an end to the program within 60 days, and also ordered InnerChange to reimburse more than $1.5 million to the state of Iowa.


That sixty days has just flown by and now Chuck, having no other defense for a 'ministry' that basically forces prisoners to accept Christianity has a novel and desperate 11th hour defense of his Prison Fellowship Ministries -- it fights terrorism.

I don’t usually make predictions, but here’s one I’ll venture: If, God forbid, an attack by home-grown Islamist radicals occurs on American soil, many, if not most, of the perpetrators will have converted to Islam while in prison.

I am hardly going out on a limb here. I said this first in 2001. The spread of an especially virulent form of Islam within American prisons is obvious to those of us who have spent time in these prisons. It’s the rest of American society that is in denial. Now, thanks to a new study, ignorance is no longer an option.


The study he cites, "Out of the Shadows" [ PDF], was released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Colson points to this study and writes, "The largely unimpeded spread of radical Islam through our prisons coincides with increased opposition to the one really successful antidote -- that is, the presence of Christianity."

But, big surprise, the study doesn't say that at all. In fact, the study's solutions do not include reprogramming muslims in prison. "Let me be clear. Our concern is not with prison inmates converting to Islam," wrote Sen. Susan Collins, the Committee Chairman, in the opening statement, "For many converts, this religion brings the direction and purpose their lives previously lacked. Our concern is with those who would use prisons as places to indoctrinate inmates with a hateful ideology that incites adherents to commit violent acts."

Then again, Sen. Collins doesn't have to reimburse the state of Iowa more that $1.5 mil, so you'd imagine that she has a different perspective on things.

Plenty of rightwing organizations have jumped on the Prison Fellowship bandwagon. The Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law & Justice wrote an amicus brief stating, "If the IFI program were to be dismantled and penalized (especially by the million-dollar-plus restitution order in this case) under the decision below, this would both punish a successful program and profoundly deter any similar program in the future. . ."

That really kind of seems to be the point, doesn't it? The program's clearly unconstitutional, so why wouldn't the court want to discourage this sort of taxpayer funded religious recruitment in the future?

Ten Commandments activist judge Roy Moore issued a press release stating, "Once again there is an attack on Christianity—this time in our prison systems. In the State of Iowa, a liberal organization out to remove the public acknowledgment of God has stopped efforts by the State to rehabilitate prisoners by a voluntary program run by a Christian ministry."

They always do that -- any setback for their lunatic fringe is an 'attack on Christianity'.

Alliance Defense Fund, a religious right supergroup founded by James Dobson, James Kennedy, and Don Wildmon, among others writes, "It is a shame that groups hostile to religious faith like Americans United will go to such lengths to silence a faith-based program."

Again, the idea that people who oppose these screwballs are 'hostile to religious faith'. Never mind that AU was founded by ordained United Church of Christ minister Barry Lynn. This isn't so much a group hostile to religious faith as it is a group trying to fix crap that the religious right has done to screw up the reputations of christians in general.

And what about Colson's idea that making muslims christian will make them more peaceful? Well, since christians are by far the most incarcerated religious group, you could argue that converting more of them would be a real bad idea. It didn't keep them out of prison, did it?

--Wisco


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