A Colorado man had his parole revoked because he refused to attend religious services. Mark Janny’s parole officer had made it a requirement of his parole that he live at the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian homeless shelter, and attend religious services, Bible studies and religious counseling.
Janny is an atheist, and asked to be excused from the religious services or be permitted to move to a non-Christian facility. His parole officer refused to move him and threatened to revoke his parole if he didn’t attend the required religious functions. When Janny declined to attend, his parole was revoked and he went back to jail.
After his case was dismissed in federal district court, where Janny represented himself, it came to the attention of Americans United (AU) and ACLU. They have filed an appeal on his behalf.
Here’s what Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director at Americans United: said about the case:
Mark Janny’s parole officer teamed up with shelter administrators to coerce Mark into practicing a faith that is not his own. And when Mark refused to submit to this proselytization, his parole officer retaliated by throwing Mark back in jail. Not only did these actions violate Mark’s religious freedom, but they also represent an alarming example of authority figures taking advantage of a vulnerable man.
Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief:
Throwing someone behind bars for refusing to attend church services is blatantly unconstitutional. Government officials can’t abuse their positions of power to convert parolees, or anyone else, to their preferred faith.
The religious fanatics are out there, and if they ever get the power of government, everybody will be in Mark Janny’s shoes. They never quit trying to jam their religious crap down our throats.
Fortunately, we have organizations like AU and ACLU that watch for stuff like this and fight back. I belong to both of them and strongly recommend that everyone reading this who is not a member should join.