Our country, with the approval and encouragement of George W. Bush, has been carrying out a program of religious indoctrination and the unconstitutional endorsement of evangelical Christianity. Federal money has been funneled into “faith-based” programs that make religious dogmatists prosper, and have no other actual, real-world value. The clearest examples are the prisons, where con artists like Chuck Colson have been engaged in a kind of ministry that is actually religious extortion and bribery.
The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms.
But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress.
The article documents many instance of this kind of behavior line up at the trough and get cash—large amounts of cash—to proselytize to captive audiences. It’s genuinely despicable. This is exactly why the government should not be involved in favoring one religion over another—these gasbags cannot be trusted to put the interests of their target audience above their need to preach dogma.
For another example of the sleazy behavior of evangelicals, I give to you Kent Hovind. Hovind is a dishonest creationist who was caught committing tax evasion. Not only was he skimming to enrich himself, but by playing games with their salaries and paying them under the table, he was screwing over his employees, which seems to be a most Christian thing to do. He’s been convicted and thrown in jail, and he has been sporadically posting blog entries from prison. These are appalling stories of a con man who can’t stop bilking his fellow inmates.
have also been teaching math and science to some of the others. It is great to see convicted drug dealers get excited when they learn fourth grade level math for the first time. I have spent quite a bit of time with one 29-year-old man who cannot read at all. I have been teaching him phonics and we are reading Genesis 1, 2, 3 and John 1, 2, and 3. His face lights up when he sees that he can do it. I offer commissary items like soup or coffee to men who memorize Bible verses. There is no way to describe the joy that they show when they get it right. Many have never memorized scriptures in their life, and maybe that is why they are in jail. Scripture helps us to “cleanse our ways” Psalm 119:9-11.
Hovind is not a good teacher. I’ve heard his lectures; he’s a fraud and a liar who babbles at a frantic pace, who has been peddling anti-scientific crap for decades, and now he claims to be teaching science to his fellow inmates. This is an injustice. We’re locking up these poor fellows as punishment, isn’t it a bit much to also allow a bunco artist like Hovind to fill their heads with lies and actively contribute to their ignorance?
Also note the outright bribery I highlighted in the quote—the man has no shame at all.
In fact, he is so shameless I expect that he’ll soon be applying for federal aid in his propaganda efforts…and given the record of this Republican administration, he’ll probably get it. After all, a belief in Jesus seems to be sufficient qualification for any clown to be a teacher (or a president!), overcoming any amount of stupidity.
(crossposted to The American Street)