Well here’s one way to try to make a dent in the crime rate. Bay Minette, Alabama is giving people who have been convicted of a non-violent, misdemeanor crime, the choice between jail or going to church every Sunday for a year. It’s an interesting proposition, implemented by a group called Restore Our Community or ROC. Yep, the Lord and the Law working side by side. But is it fair?
The first thing that came to my mind was separation of church and state? Do the ROC folks know something that the framers of our Constitution did not? And while technically, separation of church and state just means that Congress won’t establish an official religion, this somehow feels like it’s tiptoeing perilously to a line that ought not be crossed.
Years ago, I worked in Alabama and I can tell you there are plenty of churches. What I did not see in my time there were a lot of synagogues or mosques. I would assume offenders would be given a choice on where to worship, based on their faith but what if there isn’t a synagogue or mosque nearby? If you’re Jewish or Muslim, your choice is go to jail or spend a year listening to something you don’t believe in. Something doesn’t feel quite right about this to me. It doesn’t to the ACLU in Alabama either, who calls this blatantly unconstitutional.
So let’s start off the day with a spiky religious debate shall we? What do you think? Does this sound fair? Do you think the community of Bay Minette is right to offer this as an option? If you were the one given the choice, which would you choose? Lemme hear ya!!