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Fox – The Christian Cable Network

Reported by Chrish - June 25, 2006 -

In what has become a weekly plug for evangelical Christianity, John Kasich presented a segment on “God in the American prison system" – with the accompanying illustration of a bible behind prison bars. He reported that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has “joined with a judge” to say that a prison Christian program needs to be stopped because “prisoners might read the Bible and convert to Christianity.” (Comment: Whoa, not so fast – turns out that this is a lawsuit filed in 2003 about a violation of church and state seperation that the judge, in denying summary judgment, allowed to go forward). Kasich pondered if this is an “issue of church and state or an interference in a program for rehabilitation.”

Kasich then interviewed Rob Boston from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (who was last seen on Fox being threatened by John Gibson)and Mark Early, the president of Prison Fellowship – a group that is described on its website as “a non profit, volunteer reliant ministry focused on the mission of transformation through the grace and power of Jesus Christ.”

Mr. Boston explained that this program (a daily routine of bible study and “Christian values training”) constitutes a violation of the constitutional protections about separation of church and states because it uses taxpayer money to promote evangelical Christianity. Kasich then cited an unsourced “study” that purported to show that the recidivism rate of those who had been in the program was 8% as opposed to 60% of those who had not. While he said this, there was a brief film clip of an all black prison gang being lead by a white prison guard on horseback. (Comment: talk about appealing to “heartland” stereotypes and prejudices!). Boston replied that the study had been totally debunked and that the issue involved certain benefits obtained by the prison “graduates” which are not available to other prisoners, such as early parole. Kasich opined that any public money that keeps prisoners from returning to prison is worthwhile. Boston responded that it is sad that this prison system provides this program but does not provide any education, vocational training, or counseling. Kasich responded that at least the prisoners have this program.

Mark Early explained that the program was open to prisoners of all faiths and it was not an attempt to proselytize. He then stated that the “study” by the University of Pennsylvania was both valid and peer reviewed (Ann Piehl, professor of public policy at Harvard, referred to the distortions of the study as “cooking the books” in an article in Slate about this study.) Early went on to describe the program as “holistic” and asserted that it did provide vocational training and drug abuse counseling – all with great results funded only with 40% public funds. While he was speaking, there was a brief film clip of prisoners at Gitmo. He then said that the program was not just about getting job; but about a life “transformation” and “value system.”

Kasich then said to Boston “you’re a young man, why would you want to slap these people?” Boston reiterated that it was a taxpayer funded religious conversion effort.

Kasich concluded by predicting that the prison program would “win” because the US Congress is promoting faith based initiatives. (Comment: this is a court case that is challenging an operation that comes straight from the Bush administration). He then told Boston to “search his conscience” because what this lawsuit was doing was hurting a program that “teaches values” and prevents released prisoners from “harming your family and mine.” Kasich added that the promoters of the program should have medals “pinned on them.” Kasich ended the segment by saying that “you’re a good man for coming on, Mr. Early.” (Comment: As Kasich did not agree with him, Boston was dismissed without even a thank you.)

Comment: Kasich, and Fox clearly use their programming to promote evangelical Christianity. They serve as “handmaidens” to their ultimate master, the Bush White House, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Christian religious right. Kasich employed the typical Fox propagandistic distortion by showing a chyron, throughout the whole show, that said, “Bibles not allowed in prison” – which, as explained by Boston, just wasn’t true. But when you’re “standing up” for Jesus on Fox, truth is irrelevant!