Should a Judge Be Allowed to Mandate Church as a Term of Probation?

Or is that a clear violation of the separation of church and state?

A judge recently sentenced an Oklahoma teen to 10 years probation, the terms of which included regular church attendance, for a manslaughter charge.

Tyler Alred, now 17, had been drinking when he crashed a pickup truck on Dec. 3, 2011, according to Tulsa World reports. The accident killed a 16-year-old passenger who was reportedly a friend of Alred. Although not legally drunk, it is reported that because Alred was below the legal drinking age he was still considered to be under the influence of alcohol. He was sentenced after pleading guilty, and the terms of probation included the church mandate. Alred, a regular church-goer anyway, reportedly does not object to the probation requirement involving church attendance.

However, that particular requirement has raised issues of separation of church and state by a University of Oklahoma law professor. In addition, University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison told KTUL that the church requirement "speaks to maybe forcing people to do religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free will … I don't know why a church would want to have someone come to it under the force of government."

So what do you think? Should a judge be allowed to impose a church requirement as a term of probation or is this a violation of the separation of church and state?

Brian November 23, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Absolutely Not! Our religious liberty is not to be taken so lightly. Do we want a religious oligarchy that forces its dogma and myths apon us? NO! Did the good judge prescribe which church would be acceptable? And what makes the judge think that church might actually help this guy? Religion is an individual choice, not a judges, nor an employer, or even parents, for that matter! The judge in this case lumps religion in with government, deminishing religion to an organ of the state.
r patton November 23, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Hey, to him it's punishment so what's the problem?
Chris November 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM
So Brian, how do YOU feel about our new healthcare enforcement?
Chyrell November 23, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Thousands of people fled Europe to the U.S. to flee Religion years ago! No one has the right to force religion on anyone else! As far as our healthcare enforcement goes, I was happy to see the AHCA replace the most corrupt system in America, who makes it's profits off the pain and suffering of mankind. I was growing sick of paying for every uninsured person's trip to the ER room by way of my own higher insurance rates!!
Mr. B November 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
So, what's going to be different about the new government mandated insurance? Who will be paying for the uninsured person's trip to the ER now? Not just the ones you were paying for before but for the additional 629,000 people that will be forced onto Medicaid rolls. Do you think you're about to get a reduction in your healthcare costs now? BTW, most people that left Europe due to religion left because of religious persecution, not to flee religion but to practice freely here.
Chris November 23, 2012 at 03:23 PM
So Chyrell, what makes you think things will be better? Doctors spend 10 or 15 years in school and tons of cash to be professionals. Now they will be paid less money and there aren't enough of them already. Statistics show that a large percentage of doctors are already burned out. Tons of people are already loosing jobs due to this deplorable healthcare bill. If we accept this, why not accept WHATEVER a judge decides. What makes you believe our freedoms will ever be safe after this BS?
Michelle Couch November 23, 2012 at 03:39 PM
"No one has the right to force religion on anyone else!" When you break the law and are convicted - you lose the right to control your own life. Your rights now belong to the criminal justice system and the judge. No questions asked. You do what you are ordered to do or face even more severe consequences. Any church that is worth its salt and not a "carnal-religious" institution, will welcome the probationer with open arms. They would want to help this young man on his journey to redemption, if such a journey is within his reach. If this young man never entered the church, he may have even less of a chance of redemption. Perhaps this judge truly has the young man's best interest at heart; that would make him very unlike many other judges who are just on power trips because they can play "God" with someone else's life. Try not to lump this issue into your anger over politics and government, or church and state. Try to consider that this judge's order may actually be the best thing to ever happen to this young man! Wouldn't that be the Christian way?
Amy November 23, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I think YES!
Sportsfan November 23, 2012 at 04:14 PM
amy who doesn't vote thinks yes. Thank you amy. You can go back to sleep now.
Health, Science & Technology November 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
This is an atrocity! Secularism should a standard in today's judicial and political arena. Religious weirdos, forcing religion on someone isn't the same as saying pay for yourselves with the affordable health care reform. I don't see how anyone believes in camp-side stories anymore.
Nancy Wolcott November 23, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Church attendance as a term of probation is not a violation of church and state as long as the probationer is not told which church to attend! Participation in church activities other than regulat services is voluntary. Our founding Fathers stipulated separation of church and state to prevent the government forcing us to atted a specific church. Not to deny God or outlaw religion.
George Wilson November 23, 2012 at 06:13 PM
@Chris Are you talking about the Republican congress that has a 10% approval rating and only remains in office because of contributions from the Plutocrats, corporations and gerrymandered safe districts?
George Wilson November 23, 2012 at 06:15 PM
This is a gross violation of the separation of church and state.The judge should be removed from office.
Paul L. Dragu November 23, 2012 at 06:23 PM
The judge is not forcing a "free" individual to attend church. Tyler Alfred, when he pleaded and was decided guilty, had already lost some of his freedoms due to his crime. What exactly is the argument? Yes a judge should be a able to impose such a measure on him b/c he's not entirely free. There could be far worse things than having to sit through 2 hours of church every week for someone on probation, so all you haters get over it b/c it's your postmodern objective views that have ruined a generation. You tell them truth and morals are whatever their stupid hearts tell them and then you wonder why they scheme, steal, drink themselves stupid, and have kids who will never get the proper attention they need. Good for this judge. If you have a problem go to China or Cuba, b./c there their Declaration of Independance doesn't invoke our Creator from the outset.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 23, 2012 at 06:25 PM
George Did you FORGET again that the Senate run Harry "Unicorn" Reid is OTHER half of that 10 percent rated CONGRESS? The half that WOULDN'T even VOTE on a budget? Or the winner of the Whitehouse LOST 10 million of his voting supporters in 4 YEARS?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 23, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Secularism IS the NEW standard, that’s why this even rates a notice. A government official indicating that religious organizations can contribute positively to society? Why it’s sacrilegious to those who believe GOVERNMENT is the only true religion! For a judge to order religion though does cross a line of sorts. Only works if the Church was consulted prior to the sentence and was willing to take the responsibility.
Chris November 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM
This coming from someone we know feels that obamacare is not infringing on the constitution. Good God!
Tammy Osier November 23, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Totally off topic...but....we have a republican congress??? When did this happen?
Mr. B November 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Tammy Osier November 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Democrats still have control of the senate while republicans control of the House. I was being ornery as George was making the comments about the senate being so unpopular. That was when Nancy and Reid had it that it plummeted by such wide margins. He wants us to believe that republicans are always at the root of all evil.
Good Grief Y'all November 24, 2012 at 02:00 PM
No. Aside from the obvious infringement on religious freedom, the judge could have imposed a sentence more likely to help the young man learn and remind him of the dangers of alcohol use - sitting in on AA meetings, working at a homeless shelter, riding with EMTs on accident runs. What if the "church" the boy chooses is a cult? Anyway, he already attends church regularly, and that didn't prevent his drinking. Lots of Saturday night drunks go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays.
Jim McIntosh November 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
And what if the churches refused to have this sinner, will the judge fine them for contempt of his order.
Mr. B November 24, 2012 at 04:21 PM
You have to overlook George. He is a confused man.
Tammy Osier November 24, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I know a lot of churches that work with the judicial system for community service. As far as the influence that a young man might need, working alonside people who help others probably goes a longer way than sitting under a prepared sermon any day. That might have been a more appropriate sentence if you're going to include the church.
philip johnson November 25, 2012 at 01:59 AM
The boy will find more people that drinks in the church than he knew out of the church, OH but he already was a regular Church goer. He probably is happy now.
Jenny D November 25, 2012 at 01:57 PM
No...plain and simple. Though he happens already attend church, and will not be forced to a specific religion, this sets a dangerous precedent. Anyhow...being a regular voluntary churchgoer in the first place obviously did not provide him with better judgement, so what good would FORCING him to go?
philip johnson November 25, 2012 at 02:01 PM
The above comment I made did not come out as it should. I did not mean that people in church are drinkers. Please disregard it all together.
Tammy Osier November 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Well Phillip, it's always been said that 20% give most of the tithe in the church- so where is the 80%? What that tells me, is that the ones who are faithful with their money are probably also faithful with their time. So, if he had been ordered to do community serrvice in a church, he'd probably be working alonside the real article. THEN he might see another side to life and that would be to think of others before yourself. I stand by my answer that community service would have been the better choice.
Renee Palmer November 28, 2012 at 08:57 PM
If he were an adult this would not have been vehicular homicide. The judge was lenient and in hopes that he will become a better citizen. I am to understand that the family of his deceased friend is forgiving and doesn't want to see two lost lives. The parties involved are not contesting the judgment although civil liberties union is. I am a church goer and I am sure he will do community service through church. Rulings can be challenged, is it right, is it fair? I bet the consensus would be 50/50. I also understand Okie is a small religious town. Who are we to judge unless we have all the facts?
michael mirra January 14, 2013 at 02:13 AM
How dare a judge sentence someone in America to religious indoctrination. This is a free country. They can punish someone, but they shouldn't force someone to listen to that against thgeir will. Then they may begin to believe that stuff & begin following the Christian Right agenda of hate & exclusion. Then instead of one type of criminal, they will be doing legal things, but contrary to the real agenda of God. If God looks down upon the Christian Zealots, he must be very displeased. The religious right of 2,000 years ago crucified Jesus for religious treason, called blasphamy. The religious right today still crucifies the soul of Jesus by twisting his words & his being to fit their political agenda. As Steven Stills said 45 or so years ago, " I don't know if I want White America to remember, or forget that Jesus Christ was the first non-violent Revolutionary"


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