Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Here We Go Again: State Embarassment # ----- (Too High To Count)

Sign of the times outside Montgomery, Alabama on I-65
*Updated October 5th
BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- A civil liberties group (ACLU) said Friday that an Alabama town should not start an alternative sentencing program that would give non-violent offenders a new choice: Go to jail, or go to church.

Translation according to Bay Minette: Attend one of our 56 county approved for your salvation churches or go to hell jail.

This might (emphasis added) be a good solution if the idea included any religious affiliation as a choice, but it doesn't, and we see it as an attempt to force a particular religious view on a 'captive' audience. A better option may have been community service or drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs for substance abusers.

There's just one problem with that according to Bay Minette Police Chief Michael Rowland: "There aren't no thirty-day drug rehabilitation programs." Who needs medically-based treatment programs when you have the Holy Ghost, right?

We acknowledge the intent of offering offenders a choice to attend a "north Baldwin County church for one year" may be borne in good intentions, but it's wrongheaded and feeds into the national perception of Alabama as a bible-thumping, judgmental and intolerant state that only accepts a fundamentalist Christian point of view to the exclusion of any other religions or even atheism.

We believe Bay Minette has adopted a stance that many outside of the south will view as a throwback to Alabama's past that never went away.

Harper Lee's legendary story "To Kill A Mockingbird" was the basis for an essay she wrote on the intolerance of Alabama during the 1930's and the rigid mindset of Christians in the small town of Maycomb, which was fictional in name only:
Religion was an important factor in the life of the town, with “foot washers”, on the way to buy supplies, going through the streets imposing their ideas and ideals on people. The beliefs about how one should live ones life leads to narrow minded bigotry.
Recall the Mack truck sized gaff by Governor Robert Bentley on his inauguration day that blew up in the media with all the fury of a Klan cross lighting and furthered the concept of 'same old Alabama':
''Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."
Alabama does not need anymore black eyes in the bad publicity department. The governor and state economic developers are pushing for foreign companies to come to the state and set up businesses to infuse our failing economy and help reverse high unemployment numbers. Bay Minette is not helping in that endeavor.

Proving to potential corporations that you are a "world class state" and firmly moving forward with the times is a big part of the attraction equation. Where does this archaic idea of 'church or hell jaill' fit into it?

What's next? Bringing back the chain gangs? Governor, what say you? On second thought, maybe you best not. That hasn't gone well in the past.

Church going is vitally important to the Alabama Governor. In fact, it might be, in his righteous minded view of things, what qualified him for the challenges of Alabama's highest public office:
"Listen, if you can be the Chairman of the Deacons for a large First Baptist Church that goes through a minister change and a music change you can do just about anything," Bentley said.
What will his response be to the bad press about Bay Minette's ROC program? Will he excuse it as 'the work of sinful liberals' who "don't understand the ways of the good folks of Alabama" or will he reel them back onto the plantation knowing they're putting him into a 'umm..governor about that..' position again?

That's the irony of this whole mess--foreign countries (and most of America) does not follow the pervasive fundamentalist Christian and Southern Baptist doctrine that accounts for the largest majority of believers in the state. We think Alabama needs to wise up and understand, like it or not, we're in the 21st century and the eyes of the world stage are watching what we do more than they think.

Especially when state officials have been jet-setting around globally, meeting big lobbyists on yachts, and proclamating grand promises (read: state income deleting tax breaks) of handing out incentives galore to entice foreign corporations to 'come on in.'

Bay Minette's local government backed ploy jeopardizes the states 'mission' by assuming no one will really notice 'whut we're doing down heah.' It got noticed alright. Big time.

What does Alabama assume foreign investors and business owners will think when they take notice of a community adopting positions, that for all intents and purposes, demands Christian repentance or burning in hell?

Or maybe this is a smoke-screen of sorts. A carefully crafted what they thought would be  positive PR message. Is Bay Minette really trying to save souls or is the true intention county money for politically connected economic developers? It won't be the first time Jesus was trotted out to pull a fast one over on the folks.

Whatever their real reason is, they stepped in it and there will be hell to pay for it.

So Say We The Opinion Board Of The Vincent Alabama Confidential 

 *Update--"Alabama town's church or jail now awaits Attorney General's opinion"
*photo credit: tumblr.com
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  1. Oh fudge.....can we, please, please, PLEASE ever get off of the merry-go-round of totally stupid?
    Whose holy water induced delusion was this really?

  2. I've given up reading the press about Bammy.
    Makes more sense to let my mule just kick the ever livin' hell out of me these days.

  3. This will not fly.
    Dead bird on the ground.
    ACLU will blast it out of existence guaranteed.
    As they should.

  4. So comforting to know that Alabama has no respect for the separation of church and state or the the concept of free will.
    There's no free choice if all that's offered is one religious view and I'm guessing you're exactly right about the fundamentalist only point of view in the local churches.

  5. I have an idea on how they can save money: close the jails and just move all the convicts into the local churches.

  6. Crazy in Alabama--who knew? Maybe EVERYBODY!

  7. "Listen, if you can be the Chairman of the Deacons for a large First Baptist Church that goes through a minister change and a music change you can do just about anything," Bentley said.

    That explains a lot. Can you imagine if Obama had something said that in response to a terrorist attack?

  8. That sign has been there for ages. It's always been strange to me that it is right outside of the wicked city and Goat Hill. I have heard reading comprehension is a struggle for most of them.

    Anon-how about we just send them all to the Guv's place once a week so he can brag about the countless numbers of lost and afflicted Alabamians whose life he highhandedly transformed?

  9. For the wages of sin is death by dumb ass ideas!

  10. Oh no not again..stupid is as stupid does..groan.

  11. I see no choice. If it was a true choice one could choice the religious option consistent with their own beliefs whether those are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, etc.
    What happens to an atheist? Appears they are left out of the choice altogether and are by default left with only one option: jail.
    Alabama errs deeply on this one.

  12. i'myourhuckleberrySeptember 24, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Coercion into any church is riddled with problems. Maybe they're playing the odds that membership will up.
    I'm betting NOT.

  13. Hypothetically speaking; if the offender is already a member of one of these churches and they chose church instead of jail it's a zero sum punishment isn't it?

  14. Chief said programs don't work and there's only true way to the father-through the Bay Minette Police Department.
    Odd, I haven't found that in a bible yet.

  15. Pastors and parishioners moonlighting as parole officers. Perfect.

  16. I'm still trying to wrap my head around church as punishment.


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