When Joseph Hanas was pled guilty to marijuana possession, the judge placed him in a special rehab program, run by a Pentecostal church. The Detroit News tells what happened next:
Hanas said the program did not offer drug treatment or counseling, nor did it have any organized program other than reading the Bible and attending Pentecostal services.
He said his rosary and prayer book was taken from him and his religion was denounced as “witchcraft.” Hanas said he was told his only chance of avoiding prison and a felony record was to convert to the Pentecostal faith.
Hanas is suing to have his conviction set aside, and the ACLU is helping him out.
Since the plaintiff is a Catholic who is protesting a state-funded coercive conversion to a Protestant faith—they used to fight wars over this kind of thing—you might think that the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, “the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization”, would take an interest. Let’s see what the most recent stories on their news page are:
People of faith who feel confined by the “wall of separation” between church and state should contemplate this case, and recall the warning in the voice of Sir Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers, in A Man for All Seasons:
This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws not God’s, and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think that you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the devil the benefit of the law, for my own safety’s sake.