Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Prison Ministry Battles

I just finished reading an article on about the struggle of prison ministries to remain active because of lawsuits being brought by organizations who ultimately want no part of God being presented to people anywhere. These organizations maintain opinions like the following: “…that state funds were used for religious indoctrination. It alleges that cooperative inmates received preferential treatment, while some Roman Catholic inmates — not embracing the evangelical approach — were denigrated”. So far according to the article, a federal judge has already ordered a prison ministry program in Iowa to be shut down:

A federal judge agreed with Americans United. He ordered the program be shut down, and said InnerChange must reimburse its $1.5 million (euro1 million) payment from the state. The case could have ramifications for faith-based programs across the United States. It's now under appeal, and the program has been allowed to continue temporarily using only private funds, as is the policy at Vance and other InnerChange programs.
Even those who have opposed these programs admit that they appear to bring a sense of peace to the inmates who participate. Anti prison-ministry organizations however appear to look for reasons why these programs are not successful, such as pointing out that a lack of data causes skepticism about what they claim is the program’s ultimate goal: reducing the inmates rate of return back to prison. So their skepticism is based on a lack of data? I guess it's too much to ask to give these programs the benefit of the doubt. What these anti faith-based organizations don’t see is that the highest purpose of these programs is to bring the peace of Jesus Christ to the lives of previously violent and murderous people. They don’t see this as the ultimate goal because the god of this world blinds them. Here’s how the Bible refer to people such as these prison ministry opponents: "...Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn… (John 12: 38-40 NIV)

It appears that the courts would rather have prison inmates battling, raping and killing in prisons rather than learning to turn their lives around at the Word of Jesus Christ. Sure they will say that mine is an overly dramatic characterization of their position, and that they are only concerned with non-participants being marginalized! Here is how they position their argument:

Alex Luchenitser, an Americans United attorney, said his group's primary concern is equal treatment of all inmates, regardless of their faith or lack of one. "Legally, it's not relevant whether these programs are effective or not..."
Their god here is the god of “The Legal System”. To them, the legal god must be served above all other gods. Never mind the fact that inmates who participate in these faith-based programs appear to benefit greatly (even if it is only while they are in prison – a fact that I doubt greatly). Serving the god of “The Legal System” is at the core of many of the cultural battles that are raging across the United States today: the separation of Church and State battles, the abortion battles, the school prayer battles etc. It is the pervasive weapon of choice wielded by opponents of the one true Christian God, as they battle at the silent behest of Satan to marginalize Christian people wherever they dare to exercise the freedom of speech and freedom of religion that their “Legal god” inconveniently gave to everyone.

If you are interested in learning a little about the hard word for Christ that those in prison ministries pursue with great success and perseverance, I urge you to read this article. Also, say a prayer or two for the endurance of God’s prison warriors in their daily battle with the tools of darkness used by the god of this world to silence the move of God’s kingdom: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV)

A God who sends people to Hell?