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Teen Sentenced to 10 Years of Church Attendance As Condition of Parole: Fair or Foul?

News 2012/12/10 01:21:08
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Last month, an Oklahoma judge sentenced 17-year-old Tyler Alred to 10 years of church attendance as a condition of his parole. And now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is crying foul.

In August, Alred pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges for an alcohol-related car crash that killed his 16-year-old passenger John Luke Dum on December 3, 2011. Alred tested below the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash, but was still considered to be driving under the influence because he was underage.

Instead of sentencing Alred to jail time, District Judge Mike Norman offered the “youthful offender” the alternative of 10 years probation. During his probation, Alred must “attend church regularly, wear an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet, participate in drug and alcohol assessments, finish school, undergo counseling and contribute to speaking events warning against drunk driving, NBC News noted.”

Alred and his defense attorney do not plan to fight the ruling. Apparently, Alred goes to church every Sunday and he far prefers the probation alternative to a jail sentence. However, the ACLU of Oklahoma has taken issue with the ruling and has filed a complaint against the judge.

“It is shocking that a judge would so blatantly ignore the First Amendment, which at minimum prevents the government from forcing church attendance and from interfering in deeply personal matters of faith,” Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said in statement.

Judge Norman admits that his ruling may be unconstitutional, but he plans to stand by it. “They may well be right, but that’s what I did, and we made a record,” he said to the Oklahoman.

What do you think SodaHeads? Was the sentence of church attendance fair or foul?

Read More: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/12/09/aclu-files-com...

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Top Opinion

  • lucythetooth 2012/12/10 02:33:44
    Foul
    lucythetooth
    +20
    A person shouldn't be forced into attending church, least of all by a judge that should not be bringing religion into the courtroom.

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  • Tonya 2013/02/11 10:54:30
    Fair
    Tonya
    +1
    He already attended church so maybe he should thank the Judge for offering probabtion vs prison.
  • stevegtexas@aol.com 2013/02/09 17:05:30
  • Nicholas DeShane 2013/01/11 13:49:14
    Foul
    Nicholas DeShane
    Unless the teen could choose the religion of the church, otherwise it is forcing religion on someone.
  • BleepityBleep 2012/12/18 01:24:47
    Fair
    BleepityBleep
    FOUL. Darn it.

    Whatever. He could preach all he wants, go to church till he dies, and nothing will right the wrong he did to Dum's family. I think he got off too easy.
  • whateverbabynevermind 2012/12/15 21:49:33
    Foul
    whateverbabynevermind
    I am not christian. If I crash a car and kill someone, I don't want to be forced to go listen about a religion I do not support. I find this ridiculously offensive and further evidence to how the US--despite its frequent denials--is a christian nation.
  • ZacAttack 2012/12/15 18:02:23
    Fair
    ZacAttack
    +1
    It's very simple. The judge did NOT make this young man attend church. If he had, then yes, in that case the judge would have been very wrong. But the judge did not do that. He ONLY allowed this young man to CHOOSE of his own FREE WILL to attend church instead of attending jail. And kudos to this young man for choosing wisely. A good, good choice. And if the court tried to dictate what church, that would be wrong too, but it does not sound like the judge did that either.
  • whateve... ZacAttack 2012/12/15 21:51:24
    whateverbabynevermind
    +1
    Yes, because choosing between jail and church is a totally fair choice. What about something that might have benefited the community? Like picking up trash along the high way?
  • bill.fleming.77 2012/12/15 17:39:16
    Foul
    bill.fleming.77
    No problem with the sentence not including jail time but I have a huge issue with this judge; i.e. the government, imposing a sentence that involves forcing a citizen to attend what amounts to religious indoctrination. He should be disbarred.
  • ZacAttack bill.fl... 2012/12/15 18:04:39
    ZacAttack
    +6
    The trouble is you are wrong about saying that the judge imposed it. He did not. He allowed the young man to choose it. That makes what he did a million times different in a dozen very important ways, ethically and legally, from actually having imposed it.
  • bill.fl... ZacAttack 2012/12/15 18:21:32
    bill.fleming.77
    +1
    Fair enough
  • TerryAgee 2012/12/15 16:55:58
    Foul
    TerryAgee
    Like I previously stated. I don't think minors should attend church. Let church services be only for adults.
  • shannon... TerryAgee 2013/04/08 17:05:55
    shannon walker
    In The Holy Bible it states to Train up a child in which he should go and when he gets old he won't depart from it!!! Read Your Bible Please!!! Anyone knows that you can't wait until a child is grown to make them mind!!!
  • TerryAgee shannon... 2013/04/09 17:32:59
    TerryAgee
    The Bible doesn't say to raise minors in the Church. Mark 10:13-15: 13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

    14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

    15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

    Amen!
  • Aly Hart 2012/12/15 04:35:18
    Foul
    Aly Hart
    He KILLED a guy.
  • Commander Pyle 2012/12/14 21:27:13
    Foul
    Commander Pyle
    Might as well sentenced the guy to attend the hajj annually at the same time.
  • RavenWing 2012/12/13 15:13:23
    Foul
    RavenWing
    +1
    Being a Christian does not and should not always be equate with the notion of good citizen. I have met plenty of not so nice Christians that attend church everyday, and the rest of the week go around acting like a complete monster. Also it's unconstitutional to force someone in to a religion, a religion is a very personal thing that shouldn't be forced on someone.
  • ZacAttack RavenWing 2012/12/15 18:09:17
    ZacAttack
    +7
    Yes, there are plenty of people who call themselves Christian but are not actually good people. It's very sad, but it's still true. And they are not real Christians, not according to having Christ really living in you. Not by that definition. But most people who call themselves Christian are good people. That IS also true. Second, the judge did NOT force anything. He let this kid CHOOSE of his OWN FREE WILL to go to church instead of jail. And that is drastically inescapably hugely separate and different from actually forcing him to go. It just plain is.
  • RavenWing ZacAttack 2012/12/19 18:40:37 (edited)
    RavenWing
    There is no hand book that specifically states who is acting more Christian then another, as faith and views of God vary from person to person so to say who is a true christian and who isn't has no relevance except by personal perceptions.

    Unless of course you are basing it on solely the literal views of Christ him self and only Christ himself, then I could be more inclined say most of his actions were indeed benevolent. Yet still there is room for personal interpretation in the end leaving it up to the reader to decide what defines a christian -there is no standard.There are Christians make mistakes like the rest of society they are after all people not saints. God would be the only one who could say who is more christian or pure then another.

    As for the force vs not force, granted you are correct it was not a hugely forced issue but it still is against the constitution to scent a person to a religious facility, and it should not be allowed in court. Any child would choose church over prison, the fact the church was the option poses the problem here. What if he wasn't partial to the creed and had the same option?

    The problem is that a religion is an option where someone else may be given the same option and be forced into a creed they don't agree with to avoid a prison terms...






    There is no hand book that specifically states who is acting more Christian then another, as faith and views of God vary from person to person so to say who is a true christian and who isn't has no relevance except by personal perceptions.

    Unless of course you are basing it on solely the literal views of Christ him self and only Christ himself, then I could be more inclined say most of his actions were indeed benevolent. Yet still there is room for personal interpretation in the end leaving it up to the reader to decide what defines a christian -there is no standard.There are Christians make mistakes like the rest of society they are after all people not saints. God would be the only one who could say who is more christian or pure then another.

    As for the force vs not force, granted you are correct it was not a hugely forced issue but it still is against the constitution to scent a person to a religious facility, and it should not be allowed in court. Any child would choose church over prison, the fact the church was the option poses the problem here. What if he wasn't partial to the creed and had the same option?

    The problem is that a religion is an option where someone else may be given the same option and be forced into a creed they don't agree with to avoid a prison terms. It shouldn't be an option at all, regardless of which religion fills it's place. There are plenty of equal punishments that don't need to involve anyone's beliefs or lack of, in the sentencing.

    Added:
    And after reading it again it seem that there was no offer for jail time, it was simple an alternative to jail time, I don't see anywhere where it was stated that there was a option to choose jail time or church -it seems like the offer was simply church as apposed to the normal standards.

    "Instead of sentencing Alred to jail time, District Judge Mike Norman offered the “youthful offender” the alternative of 10 years probation...Alred and his defense attorney do not plan to fight the ruling. Apparently, Alred goes to church every Sunday and he far prefers the probation alternative to a jail sentence. However, the ACLU of Oklahoma has taken issue with the ruling and has filed a complaint against the judge."

    There is no mention of a ultimatum specifically, which makes sense as to why the ACLU of Oklahoma is upset on the matter.
    (more)
  • Iconoclast1919 2012/12/13 15:09:22
    Foul
    Iconoclast1919
    +1
    This definitely violates the First Amendment. I am all for the rest of the sentence, but to force someone to go to church is just plain wrong, even if the First Amendment didn't exist and it DOES exist specifically because forcing religion or a type of religion on anyone is tyrrany and wrong. This should not stand!
  • ZacAttack Iconocl... 2012/12/15 18:15:53
    ZacAttack
    +3
    Would he have been allowed to attend a UU church as an atheist, if he were one? I don't know, but I be he would have. Because this was most likely not about the judge wanting to influence what the kid believes. This was most likely about the judge wanting to make sure that the kid's life would take a good path rather than a bad one like jail would probably lead to. Believing in good does not have to mean believing in God. And the first amendment is a protection of freedom. And this kid's freedom to believe what he chooses was never taken from him. He chose this instead of jail, and he chose it freely.
  • Iconocl... ZacAttack 2012/12/17 00:11:07
    Iconoclast1919
    +1
    I do understand your reasoning to a certain point. Where I disagree is that a judge is part of the government and we cannot allow or set precedent for allowing anyone in the government to have a say in a person's religious life, PERIOD. Our forefather's were persecuted and killed if they believed anything different than the ruling monarchy of the time and this changed with the monarchy at times. Because of that religious persecution, they wanted to make sure that the government had no say in a person's religious life. Yes, this man did wrong and should pay the price for that, but we cannot say that because of that, he gives up his right to choose HOW or IF he practices religion! It was unacceptable of the judge to put him in that position to begin with, regardless of the wrong he did, so no, I do not think he did have a choice when it's do this or else you go to prison. To summarize, the judge making any sort of religion part of the sentence is the wrong here and it's wrong no matter what this man did wrong. Since the judge is in the superior position (like the Kings of the past) he had to acquiesce, but that does not mean it was right or fair according to the protections offered us by the Bill of Rights.
  • swim2bgood 2012/12/13 03:34:55
    Foul
    swim2bgood
    +1
    I don't think it's a bad thing for him to go to church but it is a foul that he be forced to do so as it is in direct violation of the First Amendment.
  • WBC_Sux swim2bgood 2012/12/13 09:42:08 (edited)
  • ZacAttack swim2bgood 2012/12/15 18:17:10
    ZacAttack
    +5
    I would agree if that was true. But the kid was not forced. He freely chose this instead of jail.
  • swim2bgood ZacAttack 2012/12/15 18:43:00
    swim2bgood
    +1
    That is no different from a rapist saying "you have two choices, either I kill you or you suck me off." It's ok everyone! She had the freedom to choose, there is no foul here.
  • Haole 2012/12/13 02:12:24
    Foul
    Haole
    +1
    I understand what the judge intended and he's just trying to set the boy on the right path, but a manditory punishment of church just flies in the face of civil liberties. Unfortunately there isn't a similar alternative, to give the kid some guidance and make him responsible for something more than just school but making him subscribe to a faith (even though I'm sure the judge means the organized house of worship, synagouge mosque whatever that the kids parents choose) as a part of his sentence is a disservice to him and to the particula service that he chooses to be forced to attend.
  • ZacAttack Haole 2012/12/15 18:19:02
    ZacAttack
    +5
    But there are multiple alternatives, if you look hard enough. I'm not going to name them all, it's unnecessary. Also, nothing was forced. The kid was allowed to choose this instead of jail. And he chose very wisely.
  • pippahayworth 2012/12/12 21:23:38
  • Jim 2012/12/12 21:03:21
    Fair
    Jim
    +1
    Better than ten years in prison where they will learn to become better criminals.
  • WBC_Sux Jim 2012/12/13 09:45:14 (edited)
    WBC_Sux
    +2
    What if he was Muslim, Wiccan, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, Shintoist or some other religion besides Christian (or none?) Would it still be fair to force him to attend church services when the services of said religion go against his own beliefs?

  • ZacAttack WBC_Sux 2012/12/15 18:26:59 (edited)
    ZacAttack
    +3
    I wonder though? Do you have any basis at all for thinking that that would not have been allowed? would the judge have allowed a Muslim, or a Wiccan, or a Pagan, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Shintoist, or an agnostic or an atheist to attend a service of that type or if not possible, to attend some other organization that the court believed to be a more positive influence than jail would be? I don't know. I suspect yes though. Have you a reason to believe they would not?
  • ZacAttack Jim 2012/12/15 18:23:28
    ZacAttack
    +2
    It's just so sad that the ACLU thinks that there is a need to attack the choice of faith and of attending church. If faith is ever genuinely forced on anyone, and if church is ever genuinely forced on anyone, then they should fight that, of course, and I will give them money to do so. But the choice of faith and/or of church, no matter how public a -choice- it is, should never be attacked. That is just disgusting, hateful and pointless. But THIS WAS A CHOICE PEOPLE. --- A CHOICE. Over jail or prison or both ... a very, very wise and smart choice.
  • Kerymi 2012/12/12 20:35:48
    Foul
    Kerymi
    +1
    All of the other punishments seemed reasonable.
  • Eddie 2012/12/12 18:19:08
    Foul
    Eddie
    +2
    I say foul only because it violates the separation of church and state.
  • Jim Eddie 2012/12/12 21:04:50
    Jim
    There is no separation of church and state. Try reading the U.S. Constitution instead of listening to all the atheists including the ACLU.
  • Tylurr Jim 2012/12/12 21:12:30 (edited)
    Tylurr
    +3
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (That is, Something established, as:
    a. An arranged order or system, especially a legal code.
    b. A permanent civil, political, or military organization.
    c. An established church.
    d. A place of residence or business with its possessions and staff.
    e. A public or private institution, such as a hospital or school.)
    of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    "Try reading the U.S. Constitution"
  • swim2bgood Tylurr 2012/12/13 03:33:09 (edited)
    swim2bgood
    What he is getting at is there is no seperation of church and state clause in the Constitution. It simply means that Congress cannot establish a religion and force individuals to follow a specific religion. For example, as long as it is left open for individuals to do as they wish, it is ok for prayer to take place is Congress, schools, court, etc. It doesn't mean it can't be done, it just can't be forced nor can one religion be enforced.

    However I still call this specific incident as being foul since he is being forced to attend church.
  • Tylurr swim2bgood 2012/12/13 15:35:01
    Tylurr
    I derped. Misread what you said. X.x but it never defines which definition of establishment it means. Thus, we must assume both.
  • bill.fl... Tylurr 2012/12/15 17:43:30
    bill.fleming.77
    +1
    Plus the "courts" are an extension of the government thus the Congress, thus making it,as you indicated unconstitutional. :-)
  • ZacAttack Eddie 2012/12/15 18:29:58
    ZacAttack
    It does not. It would only do that if anything were really forced. But this was a CHOICE that this person was allowed to FREELY make instead of jail.
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