Okla. judge defends sentencing teenager to church even if it’s not legal

Print More

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (RNS) A district judge in Oklahoma who sentenced a 17-year-old boy to 10 years of church attendance is standing by his sentence as the right thing to do -- even if it may not have been the constitutional thing to do. By Greg Horton.

  • Anselm

    I know the church aspect will be threatening to some folks, but this jugde really seems to try to rule with compassion and wisdom. The kids ‘punishment’ is to finish school, obtain additional training so that he can be self-supporting and a contributor to society, and to attend church (ie, connect with a community of support and guidance). If the kid follows through, I think he’ll probably end up in a better spot than the one that led him to be driving drunk at 16 and unintentially killing his friend. I would venture to say that very few judicial sentences actually help the offender become a better person (more connected to and contributing to their society). Should I ever end up on the wrong side of the law, I hope to have a similarly wise judge.

  • Argus

    Yes….nothing spells compassion like force indoctrination. I wonder how people would feel if the judge had forced him to attend a mosque.

  • ppaddy

    With the Child abuse scandal, he might be safer going to Jail!!
    Nothing likeforced attendence to portray church going as compassionate, welcoming and something positive!

  • John McGrath

    I’d rather go to jail. Of course I say that but probably would never choose that option over church. but there really are some obnoxious people jabbering at church. The boy could end a wacked out fanatic or never go near a church again.

  • Anselm

    ….a Mosque if fine. Synagogue is fine. Guided meditation class is fine. The point still holds: the ‘punishments’ are aimed helping the individual actually be a better person–jail usually doesn’t accomplish that.

  • Rick Tucker

    Requiring a young man to go to church as an option to going to jail may not be cruel but here’s the rub; what kept this person out of church to begin with? And would his attendance in the first place have changed his actions? There’s no way to know this. But, we do know he already lives in the bible belt, a place where many pride themselves in their church attendance. It is common, and yet he still lived recklessly in that setting. I lived in the bible belt for the many years and I see no difference in the crime rates and in some cases the violent crimes rates are higher. Remember, the bible belt spawned decades of violent segregation and compliance for jim crow laws. It’s a place where tolerance is low for anyone deemed an outsider and the harassment of all minorities is still far too evident. Good people there tolerate a lot of bad behavior from their neighbors towards others.

  • Urban Sidhe

    @Rick- That’s about right.

    I really hope this kid goes to “The Church of Satan.” Then when he told that doesn’t count sue the state for violating his freedom of religion.

    I’m not making light of his actions, killing his friend, that’s a lot of weight to bare. But there is no reason he should be “sentenced to church”.

  • David

    If you Idiots dont think church will help him, then ask him if he would rather go to jail, you people who dont agree with the judge Are idiots , this is why this country is going to pot He Killed someone!!! the judges decision is a win win for everyone

  • Jonathan DeBusk

    I don’t think anyone thinks the judge is being malicious, but forced indoctrination of religion is wrong and not allowed under our law. I believe things like prison systems being revamped to rehabilitate instead of punish are traditionally liberal causes, so you can stop the moral outrage. It’s the conservatives of America that have turned our prison system into a vicious cycle of crime and poverty. The judge could have just as easily sentenced the boy to ten years of community service helping the victims of alcohol-related crimes. I think it’s fair to question his motives.

  • Argus

    @ David: Explain how blantantly violating the US Constitution and thus his oath as a judge spells “win-win?”