Get Out of Jail FreeDeep in the heart of the Bobble Bay-elt (also known as “the Bible Belt”), in the town of Bay Minette, Alabama, the local sheriff has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance and incentivize crime by churchgoers. The Mobile Press-Register reports that people convicted of non-violent crimes can go to church instead of to jail (WebCite cached article):

A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday. …

But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called “Restore Our Community” says no one is being forced to participate.

Forced? No. But what it means is that any regular churchgoers effectively won’t be punished at all. It’s also inherently selective, since those who don’t belong to a church cannot choose to participate in this program. This policy’s proponent explains his motivation:

“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said.

Of course the local preachermen like this idea, it will get more people through their doors and more collections in their plates! They stand to profit from this. The religiofascist continues idiotically:

“It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

Ah. I see. So there was no crime, way back when everyone was a devout, dutiful, church-going Christian. Is that it? Christians don’t commit crimes. Is that it?

Do you truly expect that we’re stupid enough to believe this, Chief Rowland? Especially since it’s demonstrably untrue that being Christian means one never commits crimes? Lots of Christians — including some who are famous because they’re Christian — are indeed criminals. I need only mention names such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard … just to name a few … in order to show this is the case.

Religiofascists like Chief Rowland love to assert that churchgoing Christians don’t commit crimes, but they absolutely do. Crimes like embezzlement, fraud, buying the services of prostitutes, taking illegal drugs, and much more. The truth is that America’s prisons contain many, many Christians. It’s absurd and laughable that anyone could say otherwise … yet Chief Rowland does. And he means it.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: swanksalot.

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7 Responses to “Bay Minette AL Churchgoers Have “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card”
  1. There was a little blurb about this in my local newspaper this morning. It made me think a bit. I found it disturbing. I find it disturbing because I'd have the choice of lying to get off easy (going to church) or being honest and taking the jail time. I think my conscience would be more at ease with the latter.

    • PsiCop says:

      This policy being blatantly unconstitutional, and given that I don't commit crimes, I would have no compunction about faking belief and attending a church just to get out of jail for something that I never even did. But while this this policy is disturbing enough, given that it encourages non-believers to fake belief in order to get out of jail, what's much worse is that it effectively means anyone who is already a regular churchgoer can freely commit any non-violent crime s/he wants and never have to be punished for it.

      That's the really disturbing part of this. It truly does amount to a "get out of jail free" card for churchgoers, and it will no doubt incentivize crime among them in Bay Minette. Chief Rowland is either monumentally naive for assuming it won't, or he's made the monstrous decision not to punish his fellow churchgoers … but either way, this is a truly evil policy cooked up by a reprehensible creature.

  2. smart girl says:

    ever hear of the first amendment assholes?

    • PsiCop says:

      Oh, they've absolutely heard of it. They just don't think it means what the rest of us think it means. Here are their beliefs about it:"Freedom of religion" applies only to ChristianityIslam is not a religion and therefore not protectedThere may be freedom of religion but there's no "freedom from religion"
      Moreover, they believe that the "free exercise" clause entitles them to force their beliefs on everyone else, because one of their beliefs is that every human being is required to believe as they do, therefore any limitation in that regard violates their own religious freedom.

    • Just to clarify… to whom was your reply directed, smart girl? The people referred to in the article or those of us who commented on this article? I'm just wondering if I've been called an asshole by you or not. 🙁

      • PsiCop says:

        Since there's no "return key" icon next to her comment, I assumed she was responding to the article itself. And it seemed like she was responding to the First Amendment violators in Bay Minette, not to me.

        I wouldn't mind if she clarified, but that's how it all reads to me.