Thursday, December 23, 2010


I'd be more impressed by this...

The 700 Club, a Christian talk show program hosted by staunch conservative Pat Robertson, is not the place you'd expect to find sympathy for the marijuana-legalization movement. But that's exactly what happened this week when Robertson started talking about the need for more faith-based prison rehabilitation.

"I'm not exactly for the use of drugs, don't get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people," Robertson said. "Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing." ...

... if it weren't obvious to me what Robertson's really up to:

... Calling it getting "smart" on crime, Robertson aired a clip on a recent episode of his 700 Club television show that advocated the viewpoint of drug law reformers who run prison outreach ministries.

A narrator even claimed that religious prison outreach has "saved" millions in public funds by helping to reduce the number of prisoners who return shortly after being released....

This isn't about compassion, or (primarily) about backing way from the drug war because it's been such a failure. It's about providing folks like Rev. Pat and his allies a way to remain relevant -- and a way to make some serious cash.

It's also a way for right-wingers to undermine secularism in America -- after all, don't most liberals support rehab as an alternative to prison for nonviolent drug offenses? Well, wouldn't that make them hypocritical -- and secularist-fascist -- if they oppose drug rehab programs just because the word "Jesus" comes up every so often? Hunh? Hunh?

That's clearly what's implied by the first couple of minutes of this clip:

Note the mention of a group called Right on Crime. Here's the group's Web site -- it's pretty slick, and a lot of big names (Gingrich, Norquist, Meese) show up there. We learn from this story that God-bothering ex-con Chuck Colson is a big supporter of Right on Crime, that Rick Perry's Texas is cited as a model for reform, and that one of the group's fundamental principles is:

An ideal criminal justice system works to reform amenable offenders who will return to society through harnessing the power of families, charities, faith-based groups, and communities.

Up to a point, this could be a good thing, I suppose. Past that point, it's an attempt to bust down the wall of separation between church and state, and an effort by Christian groups to hoover up lucrative rehab dollars.

So don't be too impressed.

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