Well, this sure sounds constitutional…
Jesus or jail? Alabama town offers options for serving time
If you’re charged with a nonviolent crime in one Alabama town, you might just have the chance to pray it all away.
Starting this week, under a new program called Operation ROC (Restore Our Community), local judges in Bay Minette, Alabama, will give those found guilty of misdemeanors the choice of serving out their time in jail, paying a fine or attending church each Sunday for a year.
The goal of the program is to help steer those who are not yet hardened criminals the chance to turn their lives around. Those who choose to go to church (there are no mosques or synagogues in the area) will have to check in with a pastor and the police department each week, CNN affiliate WKRG reported. Once you attend church every week for a year the case would be dismissed.
Police Chief Mike Rowland said the measure is one that would help save money and help direct people down the right path. Rowland told WKRG it costs $75 a day to house each inmate.
“Longevity is the key,” he told WKRG.
He said he believes 30-day drug programs don’t have the long-term capabilities to heal someone in the ways the ROC program might.
Police in the town said they think it is a simple choice, but others think it’s a choice that shouldn’t even be offered.
The ACLU in Alabama said the idea is “blatantly unconstitutional,” according to the Alabama Press-Register.
“It violates one basic tenet of the Constitution, namely that government can’t force participation in religious activity,” Olivia Turner, executive director for the ACLU of Alabama told the paper.
Rowland acknowledged there were concerns about separation of church and state complaints but said he didn’t see it as too big of a problem because offenders weren’t being forced to attend church, they are just being given the option.
The offenders who voluntarily choose church over jail get to pick the churches they attend. If they complete a year’s attendance, Rowland said, their criminal case would be dismissed.
Idaho House passes abortion bill
BOISE – The Idaho House passed far-reaching anti-abortion legislation Tuesday with backers invoking “the hand of the Almighty” and saying they’re prepared to defend the new law in court.
Senate Bill 1165 bans abortion after 20 weeks on grounds of fetal pain. It includes no exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the mental or psychological health of the mother. Only when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or physical health could a post-20-week abortion be performed.
“Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. “It didn’t ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”
The Idaho legislation is patterned after a Nebraska law passed last year and not yet challenged in court. Similar bills have been proposed in a dozen states this year. Kansas passed one last week, which is awaiting action by the governor there.
The Idaho bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples.”
State Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said the bill would force parents of infants with severe deformities who won’t survive to carry the pregnancy to term, rather than letting them decide how to react to the situation on their own. “These diagnoses were made right at about 20 weeks,” said Rusche, a pediatrician who has handled three such cases. “To knowingly force someone to carry a baby to term when they know it’s not going to survive I think is cruel.”
The bill passed the House on a 54-14 vote and now heads to the governor’s desk. It includes provisions for a legal defense fund that could accept donations.
Two legal opinions from the Idaho attorney general said the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the Roe v. Wade decision regarding state restrictions on abortions prior to the point of fetal viability.
Idaho spent nearly three-quarters of a million dollars defending unconstitutional anti-abortion state legislation passed in the 1990s, including $380,000 in attorney fees the state was ordered to pay in 2007 to Planned Parenthood of Idaho after that group challenged unconstitutional provisions in a 2005 abortion parental consent law.
All 13 of the Idaho House’s Democrats voted against the bill; they were joined by one Republican, Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow.
Ohio Senate passes bill limiting late abortion
A bill that would require doctors to determine the viability of an unborn child if a woman seeks an abortion after 20 weeks passed the Ohio Senate on Wednesday.
“Soon, abortionists will no longer be able to perform these brutal late-term abortions when the child can feel pain,” said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. “That will be a true victory for human rights.”
Gonidakis said a doctor seeking to perform an abortion has to determine viability at 20 weeks and get a second opinion from another doctor, and abortion would not be allowed if the fetus was found capable of surviving outside the womb. Exceptions would be made if the pregnant woman faces death or severe health impairment, Gonidakis said.
The bill passed by a 24-8 vote in the Republican-majority Senate. The Ohio House also has a Republican majority.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio executive director Kellie Copeland said the bill’s health exception is “dangerously narrow” and harms women with wanted pregnancies who experience “heart-breaking complications,” such as fetal anomaly or a cancer diagnosis.
“Anti-choice politicians who campaigned on less government are now passing legislation that creates more governmental interference in women’s personal decisions,” said Copeland. “Every woman’s situation is different, and it’s unacceptable for anti-choice lawmakers to think they should make the personal, private decisions that belong to women and their doctors.”
About 16 states are seeking bans on late-term abortions based on research showing that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, copying a similar law that passed in Nebraska in 2010. This list does not include Ohio, since it is not specifically a “fetal pain bill” but a viability bill.
Fetal pain bills have passed both chambers of the legislature in Kansas, Idaho and Oklahoma.
Texas Bill Would Outlaw Discrimination Against Creationists
Unlike many other states, Texas does not ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or marital status. But don’t be alarmed; the Lone Star State is working on that whole civil liberties thing. Last week, Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler introduced HB 2454, a bill that would establish new workplace protections for proponents of intelligent design. Here’s the key part:
An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.
And you thought Berkeley was crazy. On the upside, maybe the University of Texas will be able to help a few of the folks who are falling through Texas’ fraying social safety net. Out of a job? Come up with an elaborate theory about how a flying spaghetti monster created the universe. A tenured professorship awaits.
Seeing as the first one is flooded with illiterate morons, time to start fresh!
Let’s start off with an “offensive” picture of Muhammad, shall we?
On the other hand, however, one measly picture like that is sure fire to trigger BLOOD RIOTS of demented Islamic assholes!
Florida Minister Still Plans Koran Burning
(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — The leader of a small Florida church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy said he was still praying about whether go through with his plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, which the White House, religious leaders and others are pressuring him to call off.
The Rev. Terry Jones said he has received more than 100 death threats and has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip but still did not back off his plan Tuesday to burn the book Muslims consider the word of God and insist be treated with the utmost respect. The 58-year-old minister said the death threats started not long after he proclaimed in July that he would stage “International Burn-a-Koran Day.” (See pictures of Muslims in America.)
Supporters, though, have been mailing copies of the holy text to his church of about 50 followers to be incinerated in a bonfire on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Gen. David Petraeus took the rare step of a military leader taking a position on a domestic matter when he warned in an e-mail to The Associated Press that “images of the burning of a Koran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence.” (See pictures of Muslims observing Iftar.)
Jones responded that he is also concerned but is “wondering, ‘When do we stop?'” He refused to cancel the protest at his Dove World Outreach Center but said he was still praying about it.
“How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?” Jones told the AP. “Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior.”
Jones gained some local notoriety last year when he posted signs in front of his church declaring “Islam is of the Devil.” But his Koran-burning idea attracted wider attention. It drew rebukes from Muslim nations and at home as an emotional debate was taking shape over the proposed Islamic center near the ground zero site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.
His actions most likely would be protected by the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in several landmark rulings that speech deemed offensive to many people, even the majority of people, cannot be suppressed by the government unless it is clearly directed to intimidate someone or amounts to an incitement to violence, legal experts said. The fire department has denied Jones a required burn permit, but he said lawyers have told him he has the right to burn the Korans, with or without the city’s permission.
Legal or not, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a meeting Tuesday with religious leaders to discuss recent attacks on Muslims and mosques around the U.S. called the planned burning idiotic and dangerous, according to a Justice Department official. The official requested anonymity because the meeting was private.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton added her disapproval at a dinner in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Clinton said.
Local religious leaders in this progressive Florida city of 125,000 anchored by the sprawling University of Florida campus also criticized the lanky preacher with the bushy white mustache. At least two dozen Christian churches, Jewish temples and Muslim organizations in the city have mobilized to plan inclusive events — some will read from the Koran at their own weekend services. A student group is organizing a protest across the street from the church on Saturday.
Gainesville’s new mayor, Craig Lowe, who during his campaign became the target of a Jones-led protest because he is openly gay, has declared Sept. 11 Interfaith Solidarity Day in the city.
At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed the concerns raised by Petraeus. “Any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration,” Gibbs told reporters.
The Koran, according to Jones, is “evil” because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.
Muslims consider the Koran along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad to be sacred. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect Koran is deeply offensive.
Jones’ Dove Outreach Center is independent of any denomination. It follows the Pentecostal tradition, which teaches that the Holy Spirit can manifest itself in the modern day. Pentecostals often view themselves as engaged in spiritual warfare against satanic forces. The world’s leading Sunni Muslim institution of learning, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, accused the church of stirring up hate and discrimination, and called on other American churches speak out against it.
Last month, Indonesian Muslims demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, threatening violence if Jones goes through with it.
Jones dismisses the response of the other churches as “cowardly.” He said even if they think burning Korans is extreme, Christian ministers should be standing with him in denouncing the principles of Islam.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2016699,00.html#ixzz0z067l7r8
Obama Is Wrong – Sam Harris
After weeks of dodging the issue, at a White House Ramadan dinner Friday night, President Obama came out in support of Park51, the planned Muslim community center and mosque two blocks away from the World Trade Center site.
While the project may represent religious tolerance, it also highlights the failure of moderate Muslims to condemn extremists and try to seriously reform Islam, says author Sam Harris—something the president has failed to acknowledge.
Should a 15-story mosque and Islamic cultural center be built two blocks from the site of the worst jihadist atrocity in living memory? Put this way, the question nearly answers itself. This is not to say, however, that I think we should prevent our fellow citizens from building “the ground zero mosque.” There is probably no legal basis to do so in any case—nor should there be. But the margin between what is legal and what is desirable, or even decent, leaves room for many projects that well-intentioned people might still find offensive. If you can raise the requisite $100 million, you might also build a shrine to Satan on this spot, complete with the names of all the non-believing victims of 9/11 destined to suffer for eternity in Hell. You could also build an Institute of “9/11 Truth,” catering to the credulity, masochism, and paranoia of the 16 percent of Americans who imagine that the World Trade Center was intentionally demolished by agents of the U.S. government. Incidentally, any shrine to conspiracy thinking should probably also contain a mosque, along with a list of the 4,000 Jews who suspiciously declined to practice their usury in the Twin Towers on the day of the attack.
The New York Times has declared that the proposed mosque will be nothing less than “a monument to tolerance.” It goes without saying that tolerance is a value to which we should all be deeply committed. Nor can we ignore the fact that many who oppose the construction of this mosque embody all that is terrifyingly askew in conservative America—“birthers,” those sincerely awaiting the Rapture, opportunistic Republican politicians, and utter lunatics who yearn to see Sarah Palin become the next president of the United States (note that Palin herself probably falls into several of these categories). These people are wrong about almost everything under the sun. The problem, however, is that they are not quite wrong about Islam.
In his speech supporting the mosque, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “We would betray our values—and play into our enemies’ hands—if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.” This statement has the virtue of being almost true. But it is also true that honest, freedom-loving Muslims should be the first to view their fellow Muslims somewhat differently. At this point in human history, Islam simply is different from other faiths. The challenge we all face, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is to find the most benign and practical ways of mitigating these differences and of changing this religion for the better.
Comments about ‘atheists’ put off nonreligious voters
Newly elected Austrailian prime minister Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female prime minister, is not a religious person. President Barack Obama is the first U.S. president to acknowledge nonreligious Americans in his Inaugural Address. However, Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is being considered by some as a candidate for president in 2012, in an interview with WANE.com in December, said, “And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists — Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth — because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.”
This statement categorizes the 16 percent of Hoosiers who are not religious as atheists and makes false statements about them. Had he made a statement of this type about Muslims, Jews, gays or other minority groups, they would be calling for his resignation.
A letter was sent twice to Daniels inviting him to visit the Center for Inquiry Indiana, which is about five blocks from his office, so that he can learn more about people who are not religious. No acknowledgement of the receipt of either letter has been received.
Are the nonreligious the only group about whom a governor and aspiring presidential candidate can make derogatory remarks with no consequences? Does he think that 16 percent of his constituents are not worthy of respect from their governor?