Starting next week, if you are a resident of Bay Minette, Alabama, and commit a non-violent misdemeanor, you can choose between serving jail time (along with paying any related fines), or going to church for a year.
Now, being a pagan, the whole idea of the ROC (Restore Our Community) program just gives me the screaming willies. It is right up there with politicans claiming that the United States is a Christian nation (implying that if you are not straight and a Christian, then you are not an American).
But I do understand where the community of Bay Minette is coming from, considering that it costs 75 dollars to keep someone in jail (your local costs may vary).
Nevertheless, as a pagan, the idea of the program brings up some importnat questions.
Here are the questions I have about the program:
What happens to those offenders who are already attending church every week?
Are all non-violent misdemeanors worth 52 church visits, and how was this decided?
Isn't this like making these new church attendees wear a scarlet letter that screams criminal?
I sure hope that Colorado communities do not install a law like this. I would hate to be sentenced to going to church for the crime of jaywalking and overdue library books.