Church attendance an unconstitutional sentence?

Thursday, December 6, 2012
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

The ACLU has filed a complaint against an Oklahoma judge for sentencing a 17-year-old to ten years of church attendance. But one attorney feels "there's more here than meets the eye."

Muskogee County District Judge Mike Norman presided over the case of Tyler Alred -- the driver in an alcohol-related accident that killed his 16-year-old passenger. Church attendance was extended as a condition of probation, and the American Civil Liberties Union is crying foul.

Staver, Mat (Liberty Counsel)Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel tells OneNewsNow a judge has to be careful with issuing such a sentence because problems could arise.

"The ACLU's complaint has some obvious truth in it," he admits. "But on the other hand, there may be some other matters that ultimately justify why the judge chose this particular route." For example, a church could have a program successful with turning troubled youth around, or a drug/alcohol program that has proven value.

But Staver points out that the ACLU omits that type of information because "they want to sensationalize this entire issue." Meanwhile, he stresses that prison does not usually reform people, so judges are turning to alternative methods of addressing crime.

"This may be certainly one of those areas depending upon all the facts of the circumstances, and obviously here we've got someone who is not disagreeing with this particular sentence, is actually voluntarily going along with it," the Liberty Counsel founder notes. "So, there's more here than meets the eye with regards to the ACLU's media press release."

The ACLU's complaint states in part that Judge Norman violated Oklahoma's Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to "uphold and apply the law." So, he supposedly disregarded fundamental principles of religious liberty found in the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as guarantees of religious liberty found in the state's constitution.

The liberal legal group hopes its action against Judge Norman's decision will discourage other judges from issuing similar rulings.

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

If Democrats choose Rep. Keith Ellison to head up the DNC, it will ...

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Latest: 9 bodies recovered from burned Oakland warehouse
Raul Castro: Cuba will ban naming of monuments after Fidel
Wal-Mart where 3 died when truck hit store to reopen Sunday
Players: Kerr's marijuana admission could spark dialogue
Trump shrugs off fuss over Taiwan call
Muslim cleric heads back to court to fight off deportation
McConnell cautions replacement to health law to take time

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Green Party drops bid for statewide Pennsylvania recount
Delta Force hero: Mattis to 'restore warrior ethos' to U.S. military
Jon Huntsman reportedly in mix for secretary of state
Bible translators in dangerous countries facing persecution 'every week'
Ted Cruz defends Trump's talk with Taiwanese leader

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day

REASON & COMPANY

NEXT STORY
Mandate challenge left up to lower courts

Though the Supreme Court has declined to intervene, Hobby Lobby will continue its fight against the Health and Human Services mandate that it provide free insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs.