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Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Refuses to Allow Bibles & Religious Materials to be Sent to Prisoners

Sunday, February 22, 2009 3 comments

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal district court against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for its refusal to allow a Christian prison outreach ministry to send Bibles and other religious materials to prisoners. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, argues that restrictions imposed by the Dept. of Corrections upon Wingspread Prison Ministries' correspondence with prisoners violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Oklahoma's Religious Freedom Act.

Founded in 1986, Wingspread Prison Ministries is a Christian ministry that reaches out to individuals incarcerated in prisons, penitentiaries, and correctional institutions throughout the United States. The ministry relies upon personal communications with prisoners in order to assure them that God and people outside their penal institutions care about them and want to assist them in changing their lives. Thus, as part of its outreach efforts, Wingspread mails Bibles, books about Jesus Christ and Christianity, newsletters on religious topics, teaching audiotapes, and other religious materials to prisoners who want to learn more about Christianity. Wingspread volunteers correspond with prisoners about their own life stories in the hopes that by doing so, they can help the prisoners understand the Bible's relevance to their own lives.

However, in March 2008, officials with the Oklahoma State Penitentiary informed Wingspread that it was prohibited from sending Bibles or religious books to prisoners in accordance with a policy allowing prisoners to receive books only from a publisher, book store, or book dealer. Wingspread was also allegedly informed that while individuals could write letters to inmates, ministries could not do so. Wingspread has only encountered such restrictions in Oklahoma.

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute subsequently contacted the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, urging them to lift the restrictions, which are in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), as well as being contrary to existing regulations of the Department of Corrections. No response was forthcoming.


3 comments: to “ Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Refuses to Allow Bibles & Religious Materials to be Sent to Prisoners so far...

  • DB February 23, 2009 at 4:08 AM

    It is interesting that you mention this story. A Satanist is suing the prison system over not being allowed to practice his religious beliefs as well. Kind of a similar situation, I am curious how both of these stories develop.

  • steve martin February 23, 2009 at 2:55 PM

    What a terrible development.

    Those men and women incarcerated in the proson system are being crushed by 'the law'.

    This is the time that they need the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    The wacky religions such as witchcraft, mormonism, islam, etc. may take in some people, but the truth of the gospel will always make it's own way and do what it will do.

    I could expect this from California. What in the world is going on in OK?

    WE are reaping the resulys of our left wing, union dominated, public education system.

  • MikeT February 25, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    Yet another good reason why I like to point out on my blog that there is almost no correlation between the legal system and justice in modern America.

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