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?

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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