Reaction to the Prison Book List
Yesterday's NYT leak of the highly restrictive religious readings lists allowed for Federal prisoners has prompted shock, outrage, and outright condemnation from numerous sources. Some of the reactions so far:
The Unitarians are understandably upset at the complete lack of Unitarian books available:
"Unsurprisingly perhaps, Unitarian Universalism is not one of the "20 religions or religious categories" that prison chapel libraries may contain books about. In other words, no book explicitly about Unitarian Universalism is currently allowed on federal prison bookshelves."
Catholic News service Spero notes a lack of popular Christian titles by authors like Rick Warren and Harold Kushner:
"It's like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer."
Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission goes one further:
"like taking a nuclear missile to a quail hunt."
The Christian Science Monitor questions the wisdom of the Fed as judge of "appropriate" religion:
"This goes far beyond withholding obviously inappropriate materials for security reasons, as done by the chaplains, and instead defines what is religiously appropriate – a disturbing development, even in a prison context. As Gary Friedman, spokesman for the American Corectional Chaplains Association says: "Radicalization is in the mind of the beholder." Many Jews consider the New Testament hateful to them."
Librarians complain of being left out of the loop altogether:
"BOP spokesperson Felicia Ponce confirmed to LJ that many requests for the list of titles have been received since the article first appeared but said a Freedom of Information Act request was required to get it. "
I was sitting here reading that article in all seriousness, thinking "Someone should start a charity to get books (spiritual and otherwise) to the people in jail." Then someone in the back of my mind suggested calling it “Books For Crooks,” and I burst out laughing. Catchy name, though.