A systematic purge of religious books
In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.The purge is a post-911 move to throw out any materials which could lead to the prison system becoming a recruiting area for militant Islamic groups as wells as militant fundamentalist in any religion.
“It’s swatting a fly with a sledgehammer,” the article quotes Mark Earley, president of the Christian group Prison Fellowship as saying. He goes on to say
“There’s no need to get rid of literally hundreds of thousands of books that are fine simply because you have a problem with an isolated book or piece of literature that presents extremism.”The article outlines the disparity in the selection of the permitted materials so that there is a lot of material by some authors and none by others even though none of the works in question could be viewed as advocating violence. The bias includes 80 of the Jewish books all coming from one orthodox publishing house.
You can see the process of thinking that went into this, so that the goal would have targeted one religion over and against others. Impartiality required by the separation of church and state demanded that all religions be treated equally in the decision, so lots of great Christian materials get dumped. But rather than dumping peaceful materials from Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, they should have seen the need to do so as a sign that they were on to the wrong solution. Better to work on the actual problem of recruitment to militant groups than to remove vast sums of books which were there to help serve the legitimate religious needs of the prisoners, including those of Muslims.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
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