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Choosing church over jail

Choosing church over jail

Would you choose to attend church every Sunday for a year if it meant you didn’t have to serve your jail sentence? Some offenders in an Alabama town are having this option offered.

“The city judge will let misdemeanor offenders choose to work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine; or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders select church, they will be allowed to pick the place of worship but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department.

If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.”

More here.

According to the article there are already fifty six churches participating. There’s Episcopal parish in the area (Immanuel Episcopal, Bay Minette) of the judge’s jurisdiction. Does anyone know if they’re one of the churches in the program?

Good idea or a terrible one?

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Emma Pease

For those who consider it a good idea (despite church/state), doesn't it mean that regular church goers (at least those going to an approved church) get off with no penalty? Also what if the person doesn't belong to any of the religions represented on the approved list of churches (e.g., Jewish, Muslim, atheist, Mormon [I checked, there is no LDS ward in north Baldwin county])? Will the participants be required to put money in the collection box or convert as a condition of the pastor signing off on them attending? Are any of the signed-up pastors much less all trained in therapy or social work?

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Paige Baker

I would hope that no Episcopal church would be a part of this. It is blatantly unconstitutional. Clergy everywhere should be signing up to fight this frightening encroachment by the state, which is, in essence, turning them into unpaid "Jailers for Jesus."

I'd be interested to know if there are any non-Christian faith communities on the list. I have a feeling I already know the answer....

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Apps 55753818692 1675970731 F785b701a6d1b8c33f0408

This sounds to much like the "faith" that I was fed as a child: Attend Sunday Mass or you will be committing a mortal sin and will risk hell fire. As a result, I attended out of a misguided sense of obligation and not because of a desire to worship God. Besides that, doesn't this sound a bit like indulgences? Do such-and-such and you get a certain amount of time out of purgatory (in this case jail).

On the other hand, as Donald Hands pointed out above, this sort of thing does work in some cases.

I suppose the tree will be known by it's fruit.

Cullin R. Schooley

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Donald Hands

Not much different from the involuntary correctional clients I worked with for 17 years. Courts regularly make therapy a condition of parole. The challenge is to turn them into willing participants and it worked in about half the cases. Assigning pro-social behaviors to those found guilty of anti-social ones is not a bad idea and not new. These clients need to replace criminogenic friends with new ones. I wonder whether the parishioners and greeters are up to the challenge.

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Andrew Gerns

So, in this morning's Gospel, it's obvious that Jesus left off the third part of the story.

There was the son who said "no" to his father but changed his mind and went into the vineyard after all.

There was the son who said "yes, I'll go" but didn't.

And then there was the father who said to both his errant children "go to synagogue every week for a year and I'll forget about it."

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