General Question

_Jade_'s avatar

How can a judge force someone to attend church?

Asked by _Jade_ (1363points) June 5th, 2010

My daughter got a Dui (first) and was ordered to attend A.C.T.S. classes and also is REQUIRED to attend a Sunday service at the church where the classes are held (Pentecostal…not our denomination). Attendance is mandatory. If she chooses to go to jail, upon her release she will be required to start over in the A.C.T.S. classes AND church attendance. She can make up missed classes with extra church attendance. Also the class members are forbidden to have any contact with children or youth though they are basically forced to attend. Thoughts?

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104 Answers

MissA's avatar

This is not constitutional.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Um… There is no way, legally, that he can force your daughter to attend any kind of religious gathering. Now, if the classes are simply held at the church, but leave religion out of the gatherings, that might be a different story. If that’s not the case, you need to start calling the news or getting a hold of a lawyer. Freedom of religion is one of the rights in this country – no one can make you attend a religious service, period.

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JLeslie's avatar

That is an outrage. Where do you live?

Buttonstc's avatar

Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

I should think there is plenty of room for appeal on those grounds alone.

But, a DUI conviction is nothing to be proud of either so if it only required attending one church service, I would probably just suck it up and go as it would take so much more time and energy to contest it.

Just hope that the classes get the point across that drinking and driving is the stupidest and most dangerous move on the planet.

Hopefully you can drill that firmly into her skull.

The Church requirement is certainly annoying (and probably illegal) but that is not the highest priority here.

Persuading your daughter to never drink and drive outweighs that by far. She’s fortunate that this is the only consequence of her stupidity.

She and others could have been seriously injured or DEAD.

Choose your battles wisely.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Did the judge mandate a dress code for attending this church? I’m fairly confident that Pentecostals have an aversion to bikini clad spitting tattooed punk rock chicks with spiked piercings. I guarantee they won’t want her back, and then the judge could hold the church in contempt of court orders.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Buttonstc I’m sure she knows how dangerous drinking and driving is, and she’s probably talked to her daughter already. But this, even considering the circumstances, is not acceptable. The judge himself is breaking the law in order to uphold another one. That said, I wonder how many other people he’s forced to go to church, regardless of how minor a crime it was. She needs to push the issue until she finds someone to back her.

casheroo's avatar

Wait, are the classes just held there? Maybe it was this most inexpensive place to hold the meetings? What does she have to do at the church???

Zaku's avatar

In what country?

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lillycoyote's avatar

That can’t be legal. That’s outrageous. You should contact a lawyer or the A.C.L.U.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

This was covered in the 9th Circuit case Inouye v. Kemna (holding that requiring someone to attend religious-based treatment programs is unconstitutional).

Do any legal eagles out there know if this ever reached the U.S. Supreme Court, or has it only been dealt with at the appellate level?

Buttonstc's avatar

It is really unfortunate that this judge is being so shortsighted about an issue this serious.

The REAL ISSUE is the drunk driving. By his adding the church requirement, he takes the focus off of that.

I’m sure this mother is convinced that drunk driving is bad. But that isn’t the problem here. Obviously the daughter wasn’t that convinced that drunk driving was all that bad. At least judging by her actions she wasn’t.

So what is the best way for this mother to convince her daughter of the fact that she and multiple others could well have died?

This is what I meant by the judge being shortsighted. The risk now is that all the focus is placed upon HIS wrong actions and the drunk driving problem is merely paid lip service.

Personally, if it were my daughter (and if still under my roof) she wouldn’t be setting foot in a car anytime soon. She would be severely restricted from a ton of other activities she enjoys to impress upon her the seriousness of the issue.

As for the church thing, I would try for a compromise to see if she could attend a different church service and hope that would work.

But if she kept bellyaching about it, I would present her with the simple fact that being required to attend church never killed anyone. Drunk driving has killed plenty and she would be doing extensive research on that very topic.

Am I saying that what the judge did was right? If you can read, you realize I’m not. But, his stupidity pales in comparison to the life threatening consequences of the daughters offense.

And if she wants to focus upon her poor little rights being violated, what about the rights of every other driver on the road that day when she decided that her right to drink was more important than their right to life. And what about the rights of their children not to be orphaned prematurely because she couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone to get a ride home.

That’s why I cautioned: Choose your battles wisely.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Buttonstc I’m not saying that you said what the judge did was right. I’m also not disagreeing with you about how horrible and screwed up drunk driving is. The only thing I’m saying is that two wrongs don’t make a right.

Silhouette's avatar

@Buttonstc Is right choose your battles wisely. Your daughter needs to comply with the terms. Once she’s clear of any blow back you should pursue the illegality of the terms.

Start with the press.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

and two wongs don’t make it wight eever

Buttonstc's avatar

@dreamer

I agree completely. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

It’s just that one particular wrong has far more deadly consequences than another. Which one should take precedence?

THAT’S the reason I think what this judge did was so extremely foolish. Someone asked if he did this routinely for minor offenses. I wish I knew the answer to this.

Because drunk driving is not a minor offense this was such a boneheaded move on his part. It has the potential to totally distract from the most important issue.

If it were me, I might consider legal action AFTER the daughter had fulfilled the terms of the sentence (as well as MY SENTENCE, which would be far more severe) but I wouldn’t do it as a protest to avoid the sentence.

The legal principle is the same in either case. He shouldn’t be doing this. But I would wait so that it would not detract from the main point which is to convince this daughter to never be this selfish and stupid again.

If she also had to sit thru a church service, well it won’t kill her. If a daughter of mine were in that situation I would want there to be absolutely no question in her mind that if my discipline had been a little lax the first time around (to allow her to even entertain the thought that drinking and driving was a possibility)I wouldn’t be making that mistake ever again.

So, call me old fashioned if you will, but a little discipline consistently and lovingly applied never hurts any kid.

And if it saves an eventual trip (or trips) to rehab or jail for them, I will consider it to be a job well done.

lillycoyote's avatar

It’s a violation of her civil rights and someone should stand up to him. Fighting this isn’t mutually exclusive with teaching the daughter that driving drunk is a bad idea. Anyway, anyone who sentences someone to church attendance as a punishment isn’t a tremendously pursuasive advocate for church attendance, so the judge may be kind of shooting himself in the foot here. But really, it shouldn’t be tolerated. Drunken driving is wrong, but surrendering to a court ordered violation of one’s civil rights is not a good lesson either.

plethora's avatar

A judge can do any damn thing he or she wants to do….and get away with it. Constitutional or not. If you want to press the issue, be sure you have a boatload of money and years of time. Your daughter will be grown, married and have children of her own before the court system is through with you.

I have an attorney friend who says, “I practice law. I don’t practice justice and I don’t practice equity, because neither can be found in a court of law”.

That’s the way it is. You don’t want to get caught up in the court system. Tell her to “do her time” on the church pew, regardless of whether it offends her, and your, sensibilities.

UScitizen's avatar

She has options. Choose to not follow the judge’s instructions—> go to jail. He is giving her a less nasty option. —- Read again what @plethora posted above.

Nullo's avatar

Sounds to me like the judge is trying to give her a light sentence. Be happy!

@Buttonstc Technically, there is no SOCAS.
@lillycoyote I believe that the civil-rightishness would have to depend on the state’s laws and Constitution.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Nullo Civil-rightishness? Is that kind of like truthiness? :)

Coloma's avatar

A friends ex husband was just sentenced to 18 months in prison for a 2nd DUI offense in 7 years.

I say good!

I don’t agree with the daughter being forced to attend a religious service, but…a little wisdom never hurt anyone.

She needs to know that if she blows it again she might be looking at a long jail stint.

I am so glad I have never been in any trouble.

Nullo's avatar

@lillycoyote In retrospect, I probably would have done better to say “civil righteousness.”

Buttonstc's avatar

@Plethora

If I remember correctly from other postings, you are an attorney. Is that correct?

I’m curious to know more about the case to which Dr Dredd made mention upthread.
Is there any info you could add about that?

I also noticed that you’ve spent a lot of time living in Southern states I’m curious as to whether this is a fairly common occurrence in the Bible Belt based upon your experience there?

I do know that judges have tried a variety of different types of “creative sentencing” options (such as sentencing a callous slumlord to live in one of his own ill-maintained properties for a month) but I would assume they would be on shakier ground in terms of religion based judgements.

I’m just curious about that. I think it would have been far more effective for him to sentence her to log in some serious time observing at the local Emergency Room to see up close and personal the type of havoc wreaked by drunks both upon themselves and innocent drivers.

I really don’t see how sentencing her to church services (especially Pentecostal ones) would do too much to change one’s mind about driving drunk. They don’t believe in drinking at all, ever.

If this girl managed to not be swayed by her own Mother’s wisdom (presumably) on the issue of drunk driving, I find it difficult to imagine she’d be swayed by a group of teetotalers.

But perhaps that’s also why I didn’t find this to be so horribly onerous either. Obviously sitting in church won’t kill her or really do any other kind of damage either as whatever was being said would likely go in one ear and right out the other, as the saying goes.

But just for curiosity sake, I would be interested in the legality of involving religion in sentencing and why publicity about it might not adversely affect a judges career.

Buttonstc's avatar

@Nullo

I’m curious as to why you said that regarding church and state separation.

Was that not the basis for eliminating required prayer in public schools and decisions similar to that?

I do realize that it’s oft referred to as the “establishment clause” and has clearly defined parameters, but..

I haven’t really studied it in depth because I generally feel that it’s self defeating for any religion to simply demand unthinking rote-based obedience anyhow, but that’s another story altogether.

trbryant's avatar

This seems odd. I think there is more to it than this and doubt the validity of this story. This is most likely a fanciful claim from a enabling mother who creates excuses for her reckless daughter.

_Jade_'s avatar

@ lillycoyote That is exactly the problem we have with the whole thing. Driving drunk is against the law and should carry penalties. But should a JUDGE be allowed to break one law to uphold another? What kind of example is that? BTW, the mayor got a DUI and didn’t have to attend classes OR go to church. 90% of the “congregation” of this church is made up of offenders (drug, alcohol, anger management) who are forced to attend the church services on Sundays. If they do not attend they are dropped from the program and arrested. After their release they have to start over in the program. What it boils down to is that people are being jailed for NOT attending church.

trbryant's avatar

Please include the name of the church and judge. I would like to check the facts on this.

cazzie's avatar

This really caught my eye, as an atheist. I would think that the church part should be substituted out for some program to learn more about drugs and alcohol and their effects on judgement and the damage that does in the real lives of people. She could ride along when they take drunks to prison/treatment centers. (Punishment that fits the crime, sort of thing) I don’t know what ACTS classes are…...

It does seem like a very easy way to serve a sentence, to be honest. But I don’t think it will be in anyway effective and may only just build resentment for the system (both of them). The great thing about the justice system in the US is that there are courts to appeal to. I would help your daughter write a letter, saying that she would accept another form of community service and/or awareness program and then find some free representation as others suggested. This must NOT be constitutional. No way.

Where I live, if you get caught drunk driving you have your license taken away. End of story. No mucking about, and the limit is less than one can of beer.

@plethora Your jaded response nearly made me cry. Attitudes like that has made the US justice system the joke it is. Judges can not be given free reign. That is NOT how it works.

_Jade_'s avatar

@trbryant Doubt it all you want. I make NO excuses for my kids when they do the wrong thing. I am in favor of her doing a little time in jail to reflect upon her actions. First Pentecostal Church of West Point, MS…Joe Taggart. We don’t even live there and some of the offenders live farther away than we do.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

The judge’s order itself is highly unconstitutional, but he didn’t say that your daughter couldn’t sleep through the Pentecostal service, did he? If I had to go or couldn’t get out of it, I’d just consider it nap-time. Then, I’d sue the robe off him for violating my rights.

trbryant's avatar

Here are some facts that I checked out.

First – There is a First Pentecostal Church of West Point, MS
http://www.westpointfpc.com/

Second – They do have a program called A.C.T.S.
http://www.westpointfpc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45&Itemid=62

Third – There is a Judge Joseph Taggart of the Clay County Court System
http://claycountyms.com/courts/

Fourth – Judge Taggart is a Justice Court Judge
http://claycountyms.com/courts/

Fifth – There is a Youth Court Judge presided over by Judge Thomas Storey
http://claycountyms.com/elected-offices/chancery-clerk/#Youth_Court

I’m still digging… I’ll post more when I get more information

Nullo's avatar

@Buttonstc Because there is no law prohibiting the interactions of Church and State. All that we have at the national level is an amendment prohibiting Congress from picking a national religion, a la Church of England..

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo How would you feel if your children were ordered by the court to attend a Jewish Synagogue, or Muslim Mosque? I realize maybe you are just explaining why it might be legal. My question to you is do you want it to be within in the law for a judge to do that?

Coloma's avatar

Well…all things aside, the bottom line is, unless someone is really ready to make some changes in their lives and habits, no ‘program’ of any kind will make a difference.

That’s why court ordered anything has little if any impact if the person is not truly ready to shift themselves into a new way of being.

_Jade_'s avatar

From the A.C.T.S (Alcohol Chemical Treatment Series) handbook/rule book:
ACTS is a faith based program. Because of this fact EVERY student will ALSO be REQUIRED to attend at least one Sunday service at the First Pentecostal church.
A total of 36 church services MUST be attended.
Failure to attend MANDATORY church attendance will be dropped from the program. Jail results (contempt of court) and offender must start over.
Any unexcused (must have doctor excuse) from class sessions and/or CHURCH ATTENDANCE in a 12 week period will result in being dropped from the program.
You cannot fulfill your obligation by attending a church of your own denomination.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jade One of the reasons I never drank was because at a young age I learned that 12 step programs focus on God to get you through. I know now there are 12 step atheist groups, but for the most part there is a huge accepted philosophy in chemical dependence recovery that believing in God and surrending your life to him is a way towards recovering. Still, the program you site is going one step too far in my opinion, demanding attendance in their church.

Do you fear that if she finds help with these people that she will possibly want to continue attending Pentecostal church? Is there something specific in their belief system that is contrary to yours?

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie We’re not talking about what I feel, dearie, we’re talking about the law. Laws have about as much to do with your feelings as do the price of beans in India.
I’m going to be required to send my kids into the gaping maw of a liberal, secular education. Not much different. I hope to be able to counter it with a good home and church environment.
I think that visiting a synagogue a few times would be awesome, especially since Gentiles aren’t typically very welcome there. A mosque would be less awesome, but likely very insightful.

Silhouette's avatar

@JLeslie “12 step programs focus on God to get you through.” Not true, they focus on a higher power not the same as God unless you are of that bent. Most 12 step programs are free of an attachment to God. What they focus on is peer support.

JLeslie's avatar

@Silhouette I do not believe in a higher power.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo I am interested to know why you think the education is liberal? I agree it is secular. I do not remember one instance in my childhood where a teacher tried to influence me politically or religiously.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie It’s a subtle bias. Most teachers are liberal, and present their material accordingly. It’s understandable; they’re acting as they see fit. You probably didn’t notice because that’s also how you see fit.
For instance, the Civil War is generally presented as being about slavery, when it was more about state’s rights.
And some teachers will give you bad grades for not agreeing with them politically.

Curiously, part of why I don’t drink is because God wouldn’t much like for me to be sloshed.

_Jade_'s avatar

@JLeslie..No I have no fear of her wanting to continue in this church. I have always allowed my kids to make their own choices where their faith is concerned. I took them to church when they were little, but even then did not force them to go and now they can make their own decisions. Whichever church or none at all. My problem is that I feel a person should be free to choose which church they attend..if any at all and not be jailed for not complying with an order from the court to attend a certain church.

Silhouette's avatar

@JLeslie I do, I call my higher power stubborn determination.

plethora's avatar

@cazzie Call it jaded if you wish. I call it realistic. Any judge in America can rule anyway he or she wants to rule, constitutional or not, and get away with it unless someone has the money and the time (boatloads of both) to fight it. Is it right? No. Is that the way it works? It most assuredly is. I’ve been there.

@Buttonstc I am not an attorney. I know nothing of the case @Dr_Dredd mentioned. I have never before heard of a judge sentencing someone to church, but I am quite familiar with decisions that are totally shaped by the judges personal opinions rather than by law. My personal opinion here is that the judge was trying to do the girl a favor. He could have been much more draconian, so I see no reason to get one’s panties in a wad. In fact, the mother’s ‘primadonna” response, to me, is indicative of a pattern of lack of discipline on her part which may have contributed to her daughter’s delinquency.

At any rate, I would have been reluctant to even mention it. I do come from a home where, if I got in trouble anywhere else, I was in twice as much trouble at home. Apparently the darling daughter in this home is not subject to such “draconian” measures. If she were my kid, regardless of whether I agreed with the judge, she would serve her time in the pew, and then she would serve her time at home….however that might be meted out.

ADDITION TO ABOVE
I just went back and read the question again:

My daughter got a Dui (first) and was ordered to attend A.C.T.S. classes and also is REQUIRED to attend a Sunday service at the church where the classes are held (Pentecostal…not our denomination). Attendance is mandatory. If she chooses to go to jail, upon her release she will be required to start over in the A.C.T.S. classes AND church attendance. She can make up missed classes with extra church attendance. Also the class members are forbidden to have any contact with children or youth though they are basically forced to attend. Thoughts?”

Here are my thoughts @Jade The thing about this question that really fascinates me is that you think, by your note that it is “ONLY” her first offense, that just one little DUI is not such a big deal. I think the judge was real real easy on your daughter, but I think he could have taught her a better lesson by also slapping your ass in jail for 90 days.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jade Here’s an interesting article on the case that @Dr_Dredd posted, particularly the last paragraph in. It seems to be an issue that has pretty much been settled, though apparently not at the Supreme Court level, but the article is about three years old.

_Jade_'s avatar

@plethora..I said it was her first (and had better be her last). But three months of jail vs nine months of forced church attendance is not really going easy. I think the jail time would have better helped her learn her lesson. Some of you seem to think that I am upset that she is being punished…not at all. She did a very dangerous and stupid thing and SHOULD be punished..within the limits of the law. She broke the law and now has to serve a sentence that is basically illegal.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Jade Personally, I would rather have my kid spend some time in jail too, after something like that. I think everyone should serve jail time after a DUI. Good future deterrent.

eden2eve's avatar

@plethora

Well said! I agree that the young woman should be grateful for the sentence she got. In some states it would be far more formidable. Thank you for your voice of reason.

@Jade, you state above “If she chooses to go to jail, upon her release she will be required to start over in the A.C.T.S. classes AND church attendance.

Does this mean that the young woman has the option to go to jail or to do the other option? You also state that you think she should do “a little” jail time… what does that mean? A few hours? A day? I wonder if you are making her aware that you disagree with the decision by the judge. If you are, in my opinion you are breeding disrespect for the system she has chosen to ignore. You could always insist that she do the jail time, if you are truly interested in her gaining some respect for the law.

As for your assertion that the Judge did something illegal, you mention that many offenders are serving the same sentence. Do you believe that this would have continued to involve so many lawbreakers if there was something illegal about it? I’d tend to doubt it. I’d suppose that the Judge has found this program to be a deterrent, or he/she would have formulated a new penalty by now. If you truly want your daughter to decide that the future should not involve more of the same, why would you not want the most effective discipline for her? One of a parent’s responsibilitise to their offspring is to guide them to the understanding that abiding by the law is the wisest and most honorable choice, and being protective and critical of the means towards that end might be self defeating.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eden2eve How can she teach her daughter to abide by the law if the judge himself is not abiding by the law? It is against the law, period, to force someone to attend a religious service.

eden2eve's avatar

@DrasticDreamer
Is this the same law that should protect people from “being forced” to listen to a teacher in a public school talk about evolution? Are there laws against that? After all, this is offensive to a certain portion of the population for religious reasons. Do you feel the same moral outrage about that?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eden2eve No, there aren’t laws against that and there shouldn’t be. If a parent doesn’t believe in evolution they have the option of sending their child to a different school – one that teaches creation. There’s no law that says “your child MUST attend this school, even if you disagree with it as a parent”.

Nice try, but it’s far from being the same thing.

Coloma's avatar

I dunno…personally I do believe we are led by destiny, fate, God, physics, karma or whatever you are comfortable with.

I believe there are inexplicable ‘reasons’ for things and that whatever happens is meant to teach us, serve as a lesson and perhaps a wakeup call.
If I were the mom, I’d just let it be what it is, and keep an open mind.

Quite frankly this is just something else to whine and complain about…get over yourself and admit that maybe…just maaaaybe, the kid might actually learn something.

Whats the BFD, if the judge had sentenced her to a month at clown school that would probably piss off mom as well.

Just accept that this IS the reality, and move on, nothing to make a federal case out of, yep…judges can do what they want….if you don’t like that fact then don’t get yourself into trouble.

eden2eve's avatar

@DrasticDreamer
There certainly IS a law that says that your children MUST attend school. Not all parents have the wherewithal to afford a private school where their religious principles are respected. So… maybe there should be separate public schools which teach each these principles, so those who object are not offended. What do you think?

But, by the way, thanks for illustrating my point. This “separation of church and state” thing only flies one way, doesn’t it?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eden2eve Laws say that children must attend school, yes. But there are no laws that say children have to attend specific schools. If a parent doesn’t like a particular school, they have the option to send their child elsewhere. Maybe private schools shouldn’t charge religious people so much to attend if they really care the most about teaching people about the word of God. As for your suggestion, there’s a problem with it: There are many tax payers who would not be okay with funding a school that teaches nothing but creation – and doesn’t even mention evolution.

The separation of church and state does not only fly one way. Teachers are not allowed, by law, to sway children one way or another. That means a Christian can’t do it as much as an atheist can’t do it. If people view Science as some kind of doctrine or way for people to sway children away from god, that’s just completely ridiculous. And this, by the way, is coming from an agnostic.

Anyway, we have to stop because this is in the “General” section and our comments will be removed, if we don’t.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jade I see. I tend to agree with @Buttonstc that she will just have to do what the judge ordered, and then you can call attention to it if you feel you want to. Maybe the ACLU or some other organization will be interested? I think about calling someone about the fact that the public school here teaches the bible (in literature class). I probably never will though.

@Nullo I can’t imagine you would not be allowed into a synagogue? No one has ever asked me what religion I am when I walk in. If the one near you has heavy security I am sure you could just approach someone in the office and say you are interested in learning about Judaism and would like to go to a Friday night service.

plethora's avatar

@Coloma Well said….Choice is do it or get in deeper trouble

@Jade If you are giving off any signals (and you are) that you are not wholeheartedly behind the judges decision, they you are sowing seeds of resentment and rebellion in your daughter’s heart.

Nullo's avatar

@JLeslie I’m sure that I’d be allowed without any difficulty, but I’m less sure that I’d be terribly welcome, fellowship-wise.

Coloma's avatar

@Nullo

Then, IF, you are true to universal spiritual teachings it would have nothing to do with you being welcome, but how welcome you are to those that do not welcome you.

Thats the problem with fundamentalism…it is fundamentally the complete antithesis of any true spiritual teachings.

‘Love your enemies’ means have no enemies, which…one cannot have IF they practice love…hello! ’-)

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo I don’t feel that way at all. I have not spent much time in synagogues so I am only going by being Jewish myself, and the few times I have been in temple. I could have just as easily not been Jewish, I know nothing of any of the rituals. I think you would be welcome, like I said who would know you weren’t Jewish? Especially if you go to a reformed Synagogue where it would be very relaxed. I guess there is a possibility someone might recognize you as a new face and inroduce themselves, and ask you if you just starting going there. Jews are not trying to keep their services secret or anything. When my husband and I were engaged we went to classes given by a Rabbi about Judaism. Half of the people in the class were non-Jews who were curious about the religion. They were not looking to convert.

anartist's avatar

This shocks me. It must be illegal. This should be appealed. But not so much for your daughter’s sake [she could wear her iPod and tune out] as for the sick pandering to the Christian Right. And Holy Rollers to boot. This could make it to the Supreme Court. Some Civil Liberties group would represent for free.

plethora's avatar

@anartist Oh please..there is no sick pandering to anybody here. The judge issued his or her own brand of justice and it represents his or her personal opinions only. She should serve the time and forget it. Get a life!!

anartist's avatar

@plethora I am not necessarily recommending it. There would be emotional cost to the family that would probably noit make it worth it. But what the judge did was appalling. If it happened to me and I had nothing else to do I would fight it.
Get a life yourself!

plethora's avatar

Judges can do anything they want to do and get away with it, constitutional or not. It takes a truly truly enormous amount of money, time and emotional energy to fight it.

But that wasn’t my point. It was the judge’s personal option. No sign of conspiracy. I get really tired of anything that doesnt sway the liberal or atheistic way being dumped on the so-called Christian right.

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cazzie's avatar

I get tired of the so-called Christian Right thinking that giving up rights and giving in is the only way to deal with unjust situations, and then calling everyone that opposes their view liberal atheists.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora Do you think if the judge was Jewish he would order it? Do you think if the judge was a Christian in NYC he would order it? It is only down in the bible belt, or smaller primarily Christian towns that something like this would probably happen. Don’t you think it is a logical assumption this judge is Christian, and lives in a place where people are not likely to challenge this sort of thing?

plethora's avatar

The judge was exercising his or her own personal opinion and trying to the give the girl a break. I don’t really care if it was Jewish, Christian, or Mormon. She can exercise any right she wants to exercise if she has the money and the time. Nor did I say it was right, proper or constitutional. But it was a helluva lot lighter and a lot less ominous than putting her in jail.

Read my friggin post much earlier in this thread.

cazzie's avatar

Judges are meant to be carrying out the law, according to precedent and they are sworn to uphold the Constitution, NOT show personal bias. Giving her a break? That’s your opinion…

This type of ruling might be his standard modus operandi until someone goes above his bench and he gets told it’s NOT appropriate. YES it takes money to defend civil rights, that is why (thank goodness) there are some lawyers that take these types of cases for free and there are also NON-profit organisations like the ALCU to help remind judges like these that they live in a bigger world.

This is NOT a matter of ‘getting off lightly’ or a mother who doesn’t think her daughter did a bad thing. This is about a judge that is promoting a personal agenda instead of defending the US Constitution.

If a judge started ordering things like mandatory hiring of homosexuals, or letting an under age girl get an abortion or birth control without the consent of her parents, I’m sure @plethora wouldn’t be taking the side of the judge, or suggesting we just grin and bear it.

plethora's avatar

Read my lips:

My post from above:

@Buttonstc I am not an attorney. I know nothing of the case @Dr_Dredd mentioned. I have never before heard of a judge sentencing someone to church, but I am quite familiar with decisions that are totally shaped by the judges personal opinions rather than by law. My personal opinion here is that the judge was trying to do the girl a favor. He could have been much more draconian, so I see no reason to get one’s panties in a wad. In fact, the mother’s ‘primadonna” response, to me, is indicative of a pattern of lack of discipline on her part which may have contributed to her daughter’s delinquency.

At any rate, I would have been reluctant to even mention it. I do come from a home where, if I got in trouble anywhere else, I was in twice as much trouble at home. Apparently the darling daughter in this home is not subject to such “draconian” measures. If she were my kid, regardless of whether I agreed with the judge, she would serve her time in the pew, and then she would serve her time at home….however that might be meted out.

ADDITION TO ABOVE
I just went back and read the question again:

“My daughter got a Dui (first) and was ordered to attend A.C.T.S. classes and also is REQUIRED to attend a Sunday service at the church where the classes are held (Pentecostal…not our denomination). Attendance is mandatory. If she chooses to go to jail, upon her release she will be required to start over in the A.C.T.S. classes AND church attendance. She can make up missed classes with extra church attendance. Also the class members are forbidden to have any contact with children or youth though they are basically forced to attend. Thoughts?”

Here are my thoughts @Jade The thing about this question that really fascinates me is that you think, by your note that it is “ONLY” her first offense, that just one little DUI is not such a big deal. I think the judge was real real easy on your daughter, but I think he could have taught her a better lesson by also slapping your ass in jail for 90 days.

plethora (4225)Great Answer! (3) Flag as…

eden2eve's avatar

@Jade, Oh… I missed something earlier:

“Because of this fact EVERY student will ALSO be REQUIRED to attend at least one Sunday service at the First Pentecostal church.
A total of 36 church services MUST be attended.”

SO…. the DUI sentence involves only ONE mandatory attendance at this Pentecostal church. And the rest of them can occur at a church of the drinker’s choice? This is what you’re so worked up about?

I’m sorry, but I think I could do almost anything just once. Heck.. I’d even go to an athiest service, if there was such a thing. It wouldn’t harm my sensibilities AT ALL! Since I’m pretty sure about what I believe, I’d gladly spend an hour or so listening to things I don’t agree with in order to avoid spending three months in jail, even if I did completely deserve it.

I’m not arguing how constitutional this is… as I pointed out earlier, I think that we are required by law to do quite a few things in our lives that may or may not be constitutional. But do you consider the thought that if you DO argue for her rights, and win… she may have to spend that three months in jail? Which would she rather do? She is guilty of a grave offense, which could have cost lives, including her own. Do you want her to think she gamed the system?

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @eden2eve

Anyone can stand anything for a short period of time.

This girl has nothing to complain about, take your medicine young lady and be grateful that your ass isn’t in jail for months.

If a good stint in jail was mandatory for a 1st offense I think more people would think twice before getting behind the wheel in a fucked up condition.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora I agree she needs to be punished, I think her mother does too. I actually would have no tolerance for drunk driving at all (can’t remember if I said this above) I have no idea how old the daughter is? If it was my daughter who still lives at home she would have a serious consequence from me also, not just a judge. Maybe her mom is punishing her in some way, we don’t know. I am not sure if she got off easy or not, as I have no experience with DUI’s. I also agreed that she just needs to suck it up and do as the judge orders. I just felt you are fine being ordered to go to church, maybe I misunderstood.

And, I wanted to clear up for you and other Christians on the thread who might feel atheists and liberals are always purposefully trying to secularize and take religion away, that what is in our heads is not that at all. Many of us “liberals” are from very diverse larger cities, it is not that we are against Christianity (I know you did not specifically say that) it is that it is very real to us that if we allow one, you have to allow all. Requiring church is the same as requiring your child to attend atheist camp for a day. I think Christians who live in cities where they are the vast majority simply have a different experience and perspective, it is not a religious war.

eden2eve's avatar

@JLeslie Thank you for your reasoned and respectful explanation. I think that the problem I have, and maybe others who share my mind set, is that many of the things we are exposed to are equally objectionable to me.

I was required to send my daughter to a camp in the sixth grade, where for an entire school week, the apparent focus and agenda was to indoctrinate the children with ideas that were very much against my religious and moral principles, i.e, “free love”, and other such concepts. The camp counselors were young adults who evidently were allowed to freely state, even hammer, their beliefs. Had I known about this in advance, I perhaps could have prevented her from attending, but had I done that, my daughter would have been hurt. Many of these things have and will happen to people who choose a different standard from that taught in the public school system.

I think it just becomes tedious and disturbing to me, and perhaps others, when we see the moral indignation in some of these circumstances, when we are living with many such situations frequently. Perhaps we see these situations as having more potential for damage or consequences than the one described above.

It does seem to me that there is a great effort to “secularize” certain institutions, particularly the educational system, and to suggest to me that I should take my child out of such system and place her in an environment that supports my beliefs is very insulting to me. I think that my beliefs should be respected, and that my right to teach my child my values should be supported. All I would require is a morally neutral environment, or an opportunity to select programs that don’t counteract my principles.

Please understand that this has not been my experience.

My children have been required to write papers supporting some of these philosophies, even required to state that they are correct. One paper my daughter wrote was returned to her with a failing grade, because she said something to the effect that “some people think”, stating that this would not be changed unless she changed the wording to say that the concept was true. Once a librarian in my daughter’s junior high school called me at home to tell me that this same teacher had belittled her in the library that day, about her belief in this philosophy, stating that she had never seen such patronizing and abusive language in the school system. This is not the only such occasion, but it did bring out my talons, a little bit, and I think that the teacher may have regretted that later. But overall, I could not change the attitudes among some of these “educators”, and successive children had similar experiences.

Some of these experiences may have made me a little bit sensitive. I, and people who believe as I do, feel that we are in the minority, and we feel that we have the same rights to protection as you do.

anartist's avatar

@plethora again, without perjoratives this time.
The judge’s decision makes it seem highly likely that she is one of “the Christian Right” and bringing this bias that ignores ‘separatiobn of church and state’ into the courtroom with her is unforgivable and unconstitutional—no conspiracies implied or needed. Each “Christian-Righter” in a position of authority doing his or her thing can do enough damage solo.

Furthermore I did not recommend it to this family, because the ensuing court miseries could very well far outweigh what it was worth for such a minor issue in the first place.

plethora's avatar

@anartist I wholeheartedly agree with you that the judge is in the wrong any way you look at it, Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu. The judge’s particular persuasion is of no consequence because he/she is wrong regardless of the persuasion. I’m a Christian and I am 100% opposed the sentence. It, along with a thousand other things that judges do, has no place in the courtroom. My original post focused on the fact that judges do do exactly as they want to do and get away with it all the time. Whether or not it is constitutional doesn’t really matter to many of them. They do as they please.

The “Christian Right” seems to me to be a mental construct of the “Liberal Left”. There is a vast array of differences of opinion among Christians. There are basic commonalities of belief, but to then generalize that this particular judge’s decision is a product of “Christian Right” thinking is ludicrous. I think most Christians would agree that he/she is totally wrong. In fact, on this particular case, most Americans of any philosophical or religious persuasion would agree it’s in error.

All that said, my original post suggested that we not give ourselves a wedgie over it. It’s not going to do the girl any harm and the other choice was to put her in jail. I have far worse examples of judges’ egregious errors than this.

Coloma's avatar

@plethora

Yes, ‘wedgie’ is the operative word!

Cha ching….lol

anartist's avatar

Personally I would have gone to jail, but, if I remember correctly, once she got out of jail she was still faced with this ‘church sentence’—a real no-winner

Silhouette's avatar

@anartist Have you ever been in jail? I would rather sit through a church service than spend time in jail, not by much I’ll grant you, but enough that I’d have my butt in my pew when I was supposed to.

It’s one thing to choose that route for yourself but it’s an entirely different thing to choose it for your young daughter.

anartist's avatar

I wouldn’t choose it for my daughter. i would choose it for me. And I felt the same way about religion then as i do now. so i might have chosen it for myself when i was her age.

cazzie's avatar

The ‘Liberal Left’, seems to me, a metal construct of the ‘Christian Right.’ – it works both ways… see? Let’s agree that these labels are silly.

Nobody should roll over when the US Constitution is being ignored. My argument isn’t that she shouldn’t be punished, and I’m NOT liberal personally on this issue. In my ideal world, she would have her license taken away and a big fat fine. Driving a lethal machine is not a right in my world.

I think a huge fine on top of a proper alcohol and drug awareness program and a long suspension of license would be more fitting. There is no room for religion in a courtroom. If you let one in, you have to let them all in and that would be mighty crowded and confusing.

Quoting @plethora
‘That’s the way it is. You don’t want to get caught up in the court system. Tell her to “do her time” on the church pew, regardless of whether it offends her, and your, sensibilities.’

I feel bad that something happened to you that made you so jaded and defeatist, but I still think there is plenty of room in American Culture for some optimism and naive battling for ideals.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora We, I will speak for liberals and atheists and Jews, do not think all Christians are part of the Christian Right, not by a long shot.

@eden2eve I do try to have some understanding of your position. Over time I have heard many Christians say similar comments. I do agree that we want public school to be secular. I want that, and it is a big issue for me. My argument would be that the lack of religion means religion is left to families and churches. If we allow religion in, which do we pick? Can we pick atheism? Buddhism? Islam? Secular to me is not synonomous with atheism. Promoting atheism would be telling kids there is no God, which I would be completely against. I think maybe that is what you see in your examples that the school is actually removing God somehow instead of being neutral? I really want to understand your point.

I would not be surprised that a teacher may have taken something too far, or been disrespectful to your beliefs, it does not mean that all teachers would agree with that particular teacher, so I encourage you to not generalize, although I know it is hard not to do, because it seems there are many little things that have happened, which have led you to how you think about this. At least the librarian was aware of what the teacher had done and made you aware. Possibly this teacher trully has some sort of hostility or frustration with your daughter, which I think is awful. I don’t know how old your daughter is, or exacty what types of things she is learning right now, so I cannot comment on any specifics obviously. For me evolution and sex ed are the only topics that stand out for me as creating a major division in what parents and the public system might be at odds about. But I think you are saying it is much more than that. @nullo recently said the same thing.

I am wondering if your daughter is talking about religion and God in school?

mattbrowne's avatar

Wouldn’t work in Germany. Judges sometimes force (juvenile) delinquent to do work in social institutions. I thought it’s the same in the US. Maybe this particular case is an exception.

cazzie's avatar

@mattbrowne Yeah… they’d have NO show doing that here in Norway either.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t understand why this is something a parent should ‘just let go’ – it doesn’t matter if the requirement is one day at church or 100 – it is about a principle, an important one and while you, @jade, and your daughter will do what’s best, I’d talk to A.C.L.U. – even if I don’t have money for a lawyer and all the proceedings, I’d get a protest together and smear that judge in many other ways that doesn’t require money. This is disgusting, @plethora that judges can exersize their own personal opinion and it’s okay – because it’s not okay and he shouldn’t be a judge. And @Coloma, being forced to go to church is what you call wisdom? – I beg to differ. Finally, there is no reason to assume that this family can’t both battle this issue and also understand the importance of never drinking and driving again.

cazzie's avatar

Oh.. I just heard a similar story. A court ordered ‘anti-theft class’ after someone got caught pranking… stealing a neighbour’s lawn ornament (a plastic pink flamingo).

Look at these screen shots from the online course he’s been court ordered to complete:

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs595.snc3/31349_432910681562_504331562_5613994_7595755_n.jpg

http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs535.ash1/31349_432910876562_504331562_5613995_1103186_n.jpg

He’s doing it and waiting for his probation time to finish and then he’s going to expose it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cazzie Unbelievable – what a crock of shit.

Val123's avatar

Wow. That’s unreal. I haven’t read all the posts, so I hope I’m not repeating, but what I would do is follow the ruling, but contact the BAR association with this…..I’m a Christian, so if a judge ordered one of my kids to church I’d just have to laugh! And I’‘d go with them because there are some great things to be found in a church! But…the ruling would still be wrong although I don’t think I’d do anything about it. That’s just me.

@cazzie…can you explain that test thing on the first one to me a little more? Were those multiple choice answers? Or were all of those possible “correct” answers….?

As for the second, I understand how some could take umbrage at using something from the Bible as an example, however they ARE saying “Don’t do something just because someone told you it’s wrong. Understand why it is wrong.”

Is the entire course written with religious overtones?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Does this judge have a copy of the Ten Commandments hanging in the courtroom anywhere? Perhaps they’re stitched upon the inside of his robes, whereas his naked buttocks can sit and ponder upon the word of God.

cazzie's avatar

@Val123 my point is that the course he’s been court ordered to take is based some Christian Bible theme. It’s pointless. I have NO explanation as to the questions or the course itself. These were screen shots he took as examples of the bias of the course. Yes, I believe the whole course is along the same lines as these pages.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies LOL!

This blog might be interested in hearing the story:

http://www.crschools.net/blog/14-weird-and-unusual-criminal-sentences

Val123's avatar

@cazzie On the face of it, it does seem overly biased and inappropriate, but….in my life I’ve learned that when things are taken out of context they can take on a whole different meaning other than the one intended. I can’t imagine what the whole picture could be, or if those excerpts could be seen in another light. I don’t know. Maybe they had teachings from other religions as well as secular teachings? Anyway, I try not to jump to conclusions without having the whole picture.

But…as to this question, I do think there is something awfully wrong with that picture. Are you from a small town, maybe in the Midwest @Jade?

anartist's avatar

@mattbrowne It is odd for the US too, and would be even odder if it occurred on east or west coast which is why it is controversial and contestable. However state judges, states’ rights, and individual judges’ personalities play factors.

Val123's avatar

But no state law or right, or Judge’s personality, supersedes Federal law or the Constitution…

anartist's avatar

@Val123 yes but that just means appeals process . . .

plethora's avatar

Folks, I really dont care. If its your kid and you have the money and the time, sue away. I’m a Christian and I’d send my kid to an atheist indoctrination, if ordered by the judge, and then teach my kid how people are dramatically mislead into egregious error.

JLeslie's avatar

@val123 it does until it is challenged. It Sucks.

_Jade_'s avatar

@JLeslie I’m sorry..I did say one church service at that particular church, but the conditions were actually one Sunday service per week (there are 2). Wednesday attendance does not count even though the classes are also held on Wednesdays.

_Jade_'s avatar

To those who say that I want to let her get off easy and I am teaching her to not respect the law by not respecting the judge’s sentence…Why should anyone automatically pay respect to a judicial figure who is himself breaking one of the fundamental laws this country was founded upon? And if her sitting in the church of HIS choice is a “light” sentence…what lesson is to be learned? Is getting off easy such a good idea for committing such a potentially dangerous crime? I think not.

cazzie's avatar

@Jade I’d go to the ACLU and see if they’ll take the case if you want to object to the sentence. It’s a bit like Russian roulette though. They could tell you how much a judge COULD reasonably sentence and she may come out worse, but a DUI is a DUI, so…... if it really is a principal thing with you, contact them. There’s a reason organisations like the ACLU exist. http://www.aclu.org/

SJ's avatar

I personally got a DUI in Louisiana (I live here also) in January of this year. My court date was April 8th and on that day I was given the option to attend church every Sunday for a year or do community service. I am agnostic and do not subscribe to any religious order nor do I want to. I chose community service. However I was also ordered to attend an eight week class at an Evangeline church which is completely based on the religion and it’s teachings. I am not happy about this as I feel my rights are being violated by having this pushed on me when I don’t believe in it. I am 55yrs old, this is my first, and believe me EVER DUI, I know I was wrong, grateful there was no accident or anything, but I also know what I believe and I don’t believe in “GOD” and I don’t want anyone trying to convince me otherwise. I’ve been down the bible thumping road myself and after all these years, no matter what anyone tells me I do not believe in all of that and I don’t see how it is legal for the judge to order me to attend these classes which are geared to “save” me. I am outraged. I have been completely compliant with everything else and willing to do my “time”. I am not trying to get out of any punishment. I did it and I was wrong, but I don’t believe forcing this class on me is constitutional. I’m afraid to raise any questions lest I be punished for questioning the ruling. So do I fear standing up for my rights or cower to the courts?

cazzie's avatar

@SJ Go to the press and the ACLU. http://www.aclu.org/

That shits gotta stop.

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