Tuesday, May 31, 2005

It not only blurs the line between church and state; it's just plain stupid

A judge in Kentucky has been giving some alcohol and drug offenders the choice of attending worship services instead of going to jail or to rehab. Michael Caperton, described as a "devout Christian," says his sentences do not comprise a church-state issue because they are not mandatory and because he is careful to say "worship services" and not "church." Well, I'm glad to hear that; it gives convicted individuals an opportunity to finally worship at their local bowling alley or shopping mall.

The ACLU is stating that Caperton's sentencing clearly strays from government's neutrality toward religion because those who decline to go to "worship services" must go to jail. Of course, the ACLU is correct.

Beyond the church-state issue, however, is the issue of outcome. While jail usually does not rehabilitate alcohol and drug users, it at least provides consequences (granted, not always fair, in the case of marijuana) for illegal and often dangerous acts. Rehab units, in my professional experience, are not much help for drug addicts but are often successful for alcohol-dependent people. But there is no evidence that going to church has any impact on substance addiction recovery. And in the case of highly addictive individuals, compulsive religiosity can develop in churches that encourage that sort of thing.

Caperton's judgment is impaired, and the best outcome for him would be for the ACLU to put a stop to what he is doing.


"Worship services"? Perhaps we should start the Church of the Heavenly Cocktail and see if the judge approves that....

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:17 AM  

I was thinking worship at the porcelain bowl to be honest (the judge should think of it as doing penance while down on one's knees praying for the spewage to finally stop).

By Blogger Ol Cranky, at 8:14 PM  

This is certainly going to deter drug/alcohol offenders! Sheesh.

I am beyond weary of the far right Christian facists believing that they have cornered the market on morality and that their brand of whacko fanaticism should be forced on us all in general, and the weak (drug addicts, alcoholics, etc.) in particular. I suppose those weaker or 'lost' people make good recruitment fodder.

Thanks for the story; it gives me more grist for the 'stupid judge' mill!


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