Rapper Kanye West smiles as he talks with President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This seems like a good use of some leftwinger’s time, right? The Freedom From Religion Foundation is going after a local sheriff and Kanye West for providing a little light in the darkness that is our prison system. Because what prisoners really need is to be deprived of a source of hope and belief in something greater than themselves.
This all happened after West held a completely voluntary church service with his choir at a local jail in Houston.
@kanyewest visited us today. I know he has a busy weekend in H-Town surrounding his visit to @lakewoodchurch, so appreciate him and his choir spending time with us. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/3e5s92WYY1
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) November 15, 2019
Despite the unmitigated good this service turned out to be, the FFRF decided to file a formal complaint against the Sheriff for allowing West to come.
In short, this was unconstitutional. You were elected to a secular office and to uphold a secular Constitution. You cannot use that public office to promote your personal religion, even if it happens to be a religion Kanye West shares. This constitutional violation is particularly egregious because it imposed religion on inmates—literally a captive audience—who have a deep and immediate interest in being seen favorably by you and your staff. When you signal that you prefer Christianity to inmates, you tell non-Christian inmates that they would be viewed more favorably if they convert to your preferred religion. It is no excuse that Kayne West is famous. If anything, this makes the violation worse because the captive audience may be more receptive to his message. Too often we see religion assisting the vulnerable as a means of converting the susceptible.
While Christians are vastly overrepresented in the prison population, it is still inappropriate to expose any prisoner to proselytizing, be it through music or a worship service. Now, more than one-quarter of Americans, 26%, are religiously unaffiliated and nearly 30% are non-Christians, either practicing a minority religion or no religion at all. Younger Americans are not just religiously 5 unaffiliated, they are largely atheist or agnostic. A recent survey found that 21 percent of Americans born after 1999 are atheist or agnostic.6
This is laughable horse-crap.
The First Amendment does not guarantee that religious activities may never happen within government facilities, much less prisons. Nor does it guarantee that a person never be exposed to religion. It simply guarantees that the government can not make religion compulsory, nor discriminate based on what someone’s religion (or lack of) may be.
For as long as jails have been around, wardens have allowed voluntary participation in religion, if for no other reason than it promotes well-being and peace among the inmates. Further, it is standard practice for jails to allow prison ministries performed by outside groups.
The service West held was not forced on inmates. None of them had to attend. Like any other religious event, it was voluntary. All accounts are that the prisoners were very grateful and got a lot out of it. But leave it to some woke atheist group to get their panties in a bunch when the prisoners themselves weren’t offended.
I’ll note this is the same dumpster fire organization that spent years fighting to get a WWI memorial cross taken down. They eventually lost that battle.
There is no First Amendment right to “freedom from religion.” Period. If someone wants to evangelize you, you have the right to say no. If there’s a church service in a prison, you have the right to sit in your cell. Hopefully, this sheriff tells this group to go jump in a lake.
Enjoying the read? Please visit my archive to read more of my latest articles.
Find me on Twitter and help out by following @bonchieredstate