Friday, March 28, 2008

Would someone please tell me how this is legal?

SAPULPA -- Nearly a third of the inmates in the Creek County Jail were baptized Thursday night in a corrugated steel horse trough set up in the jail's kitchen.

I know it was done by a volunteer force, but:

Seventy men and 12 women were baptized Wednesday, the second time baptisms have occurred in the new jail, which opened nearly three years ago.

The Rev. Luis Torres, chaplain of the Creek County Jail and pastor of the First Assembly of God in Sand Springs, said a baptism was held in the old jail six years earlier.

I guess it depends on how "official" the event is, and whether Rev. Torres is being paid by the jail as a chaplain. I also wonder if non-Christians, or even Christians who don't follow the fundamentalist doctrine of the Assembly of God Church, have access to alternative chaplains. The bottom line is this: how are the inmates who don't participate in the baptism treated in an environment like this? How can true freedom of religion be guaranteed in a circumstance where no doubt enormous pressures are put to bear on inmates to convert?

This may be "technically" legal if it was done by volunteers and no prisoners were forced to do it, but I would still argue that it violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the 1st amendment.