Chuck Colson

In Pennsylvania, a priest faithfully ministered to death-row inmates year after year?until a new warden ordered him to leave. In other prisons around the country, authorities restrict inmates? access to Bibles and Bible commentaries. Inmates are forbidden to wear yarmulkes, or limited to one religious program a week, forcing them to choose between Bible study and worship services.

Does this sound like religious freedom to you? Or more like government actively interfering with religious rights, in violation of the Constitution?

Sadly, attempts to scour public life of anything remotely resembling religious activity are increasing?both inside and outside prison walls. When religious believers fight back against such violations of religious freedoms, we?re immediately accused of trying to impose theocracy on America.

Nonsense. A theocrat wants to force everyone to believe in his own god and follow that god?s rules. Christians are doing the opposite: trying to protect the right of citizens of all faiths to worship as they see fit.

Why do militant secularists attempt to snuff out religious practice, even in prisons, where it is so desperately needed? Partly, it?s a fanatical hostility toward religion. But these efforts also reflect a serious misunderstanding both of the role religion should play in public life and of religion?s social benefits.

First, we don?t enjoy religious freedom because the courts allow it. The founders secured this basic human right in the Constitution because, as the Declaration of Independence recognizes, the right to worship is given by God, not government.

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
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