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Don’t drop the communion wafer

Gazette staff December 11th, 2012

Would you rather go to jail or church?

Credit: Brad Gregg

We’d say that depends on the church.

If it’s, say, Westboro Baptist, please direct us to the nearest detention facility.

Muskogee County District Judge Mike Norman did not sentence 17-yearold Tyler Alred to attend a specific church. Alred is free to choose whichever place of worship he’d like, so long as he goes regularly for 10 years.

Well, the Church of Satan probably wouldn’t do.

See, following a 2011 auto accident in which his passenger was killed, Alred was found guilty of manslaughter. Norman then handed down his unusual — and, some say, unconstitutional — deferred sentence.

Americans, especially Oklahomans, sure love the freedom-of-religion part of the First Amendment. But the freedom-from-religion part? Not so much.

“Judge Norman’s decision to give this defendant a choice between church and prison cannot be enforced without illegal governmental intrusion into a young man’s conscience,” said Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

“Illegal governmental intrusion”?

Don’t we usually hate that around here?

Perhaps we must fall back on the stock answer to such a question: This is different. Because Jesus.

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