Imagine walking into your local library, planning to read a theologian such as Reinhold Niebuhr or Karl Barth, or a popular inspirational work, such as Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life or Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
But instead of finding such important and popular titles, you discover that the religion section has been decimated – stripped of any book that did not appear on a government-approved list.
That’s exactly what’s happening right now to inmates in US federal prisons under a Bush administration policy. As The New York Times put it, “chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.”
The news reports seem implausible. The idea of government bureaucrats drafting a list of approved books on religion seems like something out of Soviet-era Russia, not the United States of America, where freedom of religion – even for those behind prison walls – is something we treasure.
But the reports are true. All of the books and authors named above have been removed from prison libraries. In some instances, according to the Times, chaplains have been forced to dismantle “libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.”
To make matters worse, the contents of the “approved” list are extremely capricious. For example, “80 of the 120 titles on the list for Judaism are from the same Orthodox publishing house,” and the list for Christianity “lack[s] materials from early church fathers, liberal theologians and major Protestant denominations.”
Well that issue coupled with the guy last night on the news who was taser gunned downed after being given the microphone to make a comment/question in a political speech by Senator John Kerry makes me wonder about America and democracy… or was that dictatorship?
Here’s one news report –
University of Florida officers used a Taser on a persistent questioner at a forum on Monday with Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. Video of the incident involving the student, Andrew Meyer, 21, was played extensively on television reports and the Web. The university asked state investigators to review the case, and the university president, Bernie Machen, called the confrontation regretful and said two officers had been placed on administrative leave. Mr. Meyer spent a night in jail before being released on his recognizance.
…regretful…hmmm more like insightful!!
In the video you can hear the guys question about Kerry’s involvement in some secret society, a valid question if you ask me! Kerry actually goes to answer the question when all of a sudden the guy is jumped by security. Clearly frightened and alarmed at the overwhelming response the guy starts to panic and and demands them to tell him, “What did I do?”
They drag him to the back, throw him to the floor. He screams, “Let me go and I will walk out of here”.
Suddenly the taser gun is pulled and wham!
Check it out…