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Odd duo worked together to form faith-based prisons..Doug Coe and Chuck Colson. [View All]

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-29-09 01:00 AM
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Odd duo worked together to form faith-based prisons..Doug Coe and Chuck Colson.
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I never realized that The Family's leader was so involved in the business of faith-based initiatives. Chuck Colson of Watergate fame, and The Fellowship's Doug Coe, worked together to form faith-based prisons. Doug Coe worked hard for the early release of Colson. From page 232 of The Family by Jeff Sharlet:

Once Colson was in prison, Coe and Hughes worked hard for his early release. It worked; Colson ended up serving less than seven months of his one to three-year sentence for his role in Watergate. It wasn't hard time. "If you think what you've done was done for the right reasons," he boasted shortly before he began his sentence, "then the consequences are easy to live with."

Doug Coe, in a letter to the board dated one day later, wrote that Colson's freedom was necessary so that a group of Christian men could put him to work on a program for "reaching youth" in juvenile delinquent homes. Upon his release, the two men collaborated on who would become the model and inspiration for what may well be a generation or more of "faith-based" governmental activism.


Together they founded Prison Fellowship, the largest ministry for prisoners in the world. Colson brags about the souls he has saved. He seems to forget it is has often involved the government's money saving those souls.

...Colson founded it with Coe's help and the Fellowship's money shortly after his own release from prison in 1975....Say what you will about Prison Fellowship's fundamentalist Jesus, the story goes, but Colson's Christ "works." He saves souls. And more important, he transforms rapists, murderers, and thieves in to docile "followers of Jesus."

And yet Prison Fellowship, indeed, compassionate conseratism writ large...is implicitly political. Colson sees it as a bulwark against "moral decadence," he told me, and even as an almost governmental institution.


The paragraphs continue that the evils that most concerned Colson were first black radicalism, and next "Islamofascism." He wanted to use the prisons for conversion of evils.

Other fundamentalist groups have been involved in the movement of forming more religious prisons, and in other articles the name of Bill Gothard pops up.

Beyond the God Pod

Alternet March 10, 2005.

The nation's biggest private prison corporation is forging strong ties with a fundamentalist Christian ministry, blurring the line between church and state and harkening a new turn in corrections toward Christian-based programming.

....."Ramirez greets fellow correctional officers and inmates alike as she walks in and out of classes, workshops and prison pods. An early stop includes a visit to two segregation pods where a few dozen women are locked down 23 hours a day in small, dark solitary confinement cells. Ramirez, who used to work in the segregation pods, acknowledges that segregation "can be very stressful" for the inmates who do not have contact with the outside world let alone other inmates for months or even years on end.

But there is one area of the prison that stands in particularly sharp contrast to the bleak desperation of the segregation pods: the God pod. Officially this is the Life Principles Community/Crossings Program. It's a program officials consider the real "success story" within the confines of NMWCF. As a housing pod, Crossings has been around for four years with the enthusiastic support of the prison administration and Chaplain Shirley Compton. More recently, CCA picked Crossings as one of eight sites nationwide to pioneer a new partnership with a fundamentalist Christian ministry named the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP).


I believe other prisons, not considered faith-based, offer a choice of religious housing and call them God Pods. The treatment is much better, and much more is demanded.

The materials used in some of these prisons are based on the teachings of Bill Gothard. More from Beyond the God Pod.

Bill Gothard, the 71-year-old unmarried real estate mogul at the head of the Illinois-based IBLP, has been in the business of American evangelism since 1964. Originally named the Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, IBLP officially changed its name in 1990. All totaled, IBLP boasts that at least 2.5 million people have attended IBLP's seminars and ministries in the U.S. and many other countries, including Russia, Mongolia, Romania and Taiwan.

Gothard has not only gained success both through his religious education programs and training centers, but also through a secular instruction program, Character First, that is in wide use in public schools across the U.S. but does not publicize its origins. The IBLP, on the other hand, makes no claims whatsoever of secularism, or even respect for other world religions or worldviews.


From Gothard's own website, his views on discerning God's will.

5. Discern Gods will

Since God has given the father of the girl the responsibility to protect her purity (see Deuteronomy 22:15) and the father of the young man the responsibility to evaluate his sons wisdom (see Proverbs 10:1), Gods first line of direction will be through them.

However, even though all of the parents give their blessing, the marriage may still not be Gods will. For example, if one party is an unbeliever, marriage to that person would violate Scripture. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14).

Also, if the son or daughter has been called by God to more years of single service, an appeal should be made to their parents for their blessing. In any case, the parents cannot force a marriage, because the individual has the final say. (See Genesis 24:58, Matthew 19:1012, I Corinthians 7:2537, and Isaiah 56:18.)

If one party has been married and divorced, and the previous partner is still living, it would not be Gods will for that individual to marry another person. (See Luke 16:18, Romans 7:13, I Corinthians 7, Malachi 2:1316, Mark 10:112, Matthew 5:2732, and Matthew 19:112.)


There was an excellent article last September in Salon concerning harm done by Gothard's controversial teachings.

The teachings have bubbled beneath some disturbing events. Matthew Murray, who shot two people at a Colorado church last December, blamed his troubles on his authoritarian home-school curriculum from IBLP. Gothard denied that his curriculum played any role in Murray's dysfunction.

In Indianapolis, a City of Character, an IBLP-run juvenile center -- housed in the same building where Palin attended the April 2000 conference -- was embroiled in an investigation of child abuse, including spanking and restraining children and committing them for days to the solitary confinement of a "prayer room" without food. The center was cleared after a state investigation in 2004, although it did abandon the practice of spanking while under scrutiny, according to news reports.

Through its Character First training seminars, IACC has spread its gospel of character to local government officials like Palin as well as to Fortune 500 companies, law enforcement agencies, federal government agencies, and the private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America, which uses the character training in its prisons. Character First principles are taught in hundreds of public schools across the country.


The brothers Bush have been influential in continuing the rise of these prisons. I believe Florida has seven now, not sure about Texas. But jails not considered faith-based have living arrangements based on religion, and they have baptisms in the jails.

A critique of faith-based prisons

"The spread of faith-based prisons is due primarily to the influence of Bush and his ideological twin brother, Jeb. In 2003 "Jeb" Bush proudly dedicated the first faith-based prison in the United States.. a 750-bed medium security facility for males in Lawtey, Florida. Lawtey is a city in Bradford County, Florida. Like his brother in the White House, he claims that the only way to achieve real rehabilitation of criminals and reduce recidivism is to "lead them to God." Florida advocates of this program claim that the prison consists entirely of 700 to 750 male inmates with a professed desire to be rehabilitated who are being voluntarily led to achieve this goal by committing their lives to a god of their choosing through Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. In April 2004 Florida opened its second faith-based prison for more than 300 female inmates in the Hillsborough unit in Riverview.

...Texas and Florida are the leading wagons in the train of faith-based programs for prison inmates. Other wagons include Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, Minnesota, Kansas, Maryland, California, and Ohio. And, not surprisingly, Corrections Corporation of America
the United States' largest owner and operator of private prisons, based in Nashville, Tennessee and motivated by the smell of fresh state and federal dollars--has joined forces with the Chicago-based Institute in Basic Life Principles. IBLP was established by Bill Gothard for the purpose of introducing people to his brand of Christianity, and is dedicated to the view that only Jesus Christ the Son of God can change lives."


Gothard's rigid beliefs would fill another thread completely. Here is more about his beliefs and those who adhere to them.

What worries me is the way they will be able to claim success while only having the best behaved take part. While concentrating on converting inmates to Christianity, and rewarding them with special treatment...other programs may go lacking. I have not heard the results of these two lawsuits. From the Alternet article above:

But the voluntary nature of these programs has become the looming question for organizations like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which has filed two lawsuits challenging religious prison programs in Iowa and Pennsylvania. In the Pennsylvania case, filed in mid-February 2005, both the state chapter of the ACLU and Americans United are challenging the right of a county jail to use tax dollars to fund a Christian-centered job-training program. That program is the only vocational program in the county jail, and hires only Christians to work within the program. (Federal legislation is pending to allow such programs to discriminate in hiring based on religious background.)

"You have to be willing to convert to (Christian) fundamentalism, or put up with attempts to convert you," says Robert Boston, a spokesperson for Americans United. "These programs have come in and offered something of a substitute for the real educational and vocational programs that have disappeared."


Last I heard faith-based hiring and firing had not been addressed by the new administration, though I heard it would be addressed soon.

I found this blog that covers just about everything "faith-based". The title is a little scary, and I fear quite true. This is from 2001.

Transformation from Secular to Religious Government

Under the Bush administration, our country is experiencing a major transformation from a secular to a religious government. The President's faith-based initiative is central to this transformation and raises serious questions about church-state separation. "Slouching toward theocracy. President Bush's faith-based initiative is doing better than you think," by Bill Berkowitz, 2/6/04 provides an overview of this transformation.


Also from that link...more about faith-based hiring and firing. I am not at all sure this has been addressed under the new administration.

On February 4, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for provisions in a social services bill that allow religiously based job discrimination in publicly funded programs run by churches.

How Much Money?

How much are taxpayers paying for what Barry Lynn, Executive Director of American's United calls "federally subsidized employment discrimination?" According to Daniel Zwerdling who produced two programs on faith-based initiative for Bill Moyers TV show NOW in September, 2003, "administration spokesmen say they can't break down how much money has gone so far to religious groups .. they claim they don't keep that information."

The March, 2004, issue of Church and State reports that the "Faith Czar" Jim Towey announced to reporters that $40 billion dollars was now available to religious charities.


I often mention my taxpayer money that is going to private religious schools here in Florida in the form of vouchers. It is giving public money to religious organizations, just as wrong as the hiring and firing based on religion. Private groups making profits from public taxpayer money.

A man's prison time was cut short with the help of a leader of a behind the scenes group called The Family so that he could teach men in prison about Jesus.

The faith-based programs are continuing now, and I think Bill Berkowitz said a mouthful when he said we were "Slouching toward theocracy."




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