A Muslim man is embroiled in a religious discrimination lawsuit at a Maryland county jail, where job applicants for the position of chaplain are made to sign a statement affirming that they are Christians. Lawyers from the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) “sued Prince George’s County on behalf of Edrees Bridges, who has been a volunteer chaplain at a county jail in Upper Marlboro since 2018.”
The CAIR lawsuit argues that “that kind of religious test is illegal under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause,” and “claims the statement violates Bridges’ religious freedom rights,” even forcing him to abandon his religious beliefs as a Muslim, should he sign the statement.
The challenge has legal and Constitutional merit, but it is no accident that it came from CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case. CAIR has earned its reputation of finding legal and political loopholes to advance its agenda to the detriment of the greater good — in this case, for the inmates in Prince George’s County. In 2018, CAIR sued Riverside Regional Jail in North Prince George, Virginia for allowing for a Christian space. CAIR filed an injunction demanding “Islamic programming,” “pork-free meals,” and a dismantling of the Christian “God-Pod” for promoting what CAIR called “segregation.”
Statistical data on religious representation among prison inmates in America from the US Department of Justice reveals:
The Prison Service recognizes more than 40 different religious denominations. In 2000, the largest group of inmates was Anglicans, who formed 39 percent of the prison population. Next was the group with No Religion (32 percent) followed by Roman Catholics at 17 percent and Muslims at 7 percent. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs each accounted about a half of one percent of the population. The fastest growing group was prisoners with No Religion, which more than doubled in size between 1993 and 2000. The prison population as a whole grew by 55 percent over the same period. Between 1993 and 2000, the number of Muslims doubled.
Although Prince George’s County may be different, overall, Christians constitute the largest representation of inmates in America, making up 56 percent of the prison population. Then follow those of no religion, and then Muslims at only seven percent, although “between 1993 and 2000, the number of Muslims doubled.” Inmate conversions are included — and among them are jihadi converts.
CAIR seeks Muslim representation among prison chaplains, without acknowledging how that representation has proven to be problematic. In 2011, Michael Downing, who was LAPD Deputy Chief at the time, addressed the House Homeland Security Committee; he warned: “We have ongoing cases that involve convert prison radicals that are out in the community now.” The hearing focused on the threat from “Prislam,” which Downing described as “an extremist ‘cut and paste’ version of Islam practiced by inmates.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Smith stated in that same hearing that the Prislam ideology was one which “he saw in some New Folsom prison inmates whom he prosecuted for plotting to attack Jewish targets in Los Angeles and the LAX airport.”
According to Patrick Dunleavy, author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad: Terrorism’s Prison Connection: “If we continue to downplay the threat, we do so at our own peril.” He added that he “would not be surprised to find a copy of al-Qaida’s Inspire magazine in any prison.”
American federal prisons have more recently been described by experts as “breeding grounds” for terrorists. The implications are immense. “Prisons have long been criticized for a culture that can make some inmates more dangerous than when they entered, but the possibility that typical felons could become lone wolf terrorists upon earning parole is a disturbing new wrinkle.”
By contrast, Christianity has a longstanding positive impact in prison ministry. In the best interests of the prisoners collectively — and for society at large — programs in prisons have focused on restorative justice. Restorative justice is rooted in compassionate Christian beliefs.
“Prison Ministry of America, which also is named as a defendant in the suit, has a contract with the county to provide religious services to jail inmates. The statement on its job application says Prison Ministry of America employees are ‘committed to a lifestyle of Christianity and agree with our statement of faith.’”
The problem is not only an American one. In the UK, jihad recruitment in prisons has earned them the reputation of being jihad training camps, where Muslim prison gangs beat prisoners who won’t convert to Islam. Prison staff are afraid to stand up to Muslim inmates for fear of being called “racist.” A Christian prison chaplain in the UK was banned for ten years for warning about “Islamic extremism” in jails.
Many prisoners may be adversely affected, depending on the outcome of the CAIR lawsuit, if it results in more Muslim representation and fewer Christian chaplains.
by Michael Kunzelman, ABC News, May 27, 2021:
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Applicants for a chaplain’s job at a Maryland county jail had to sign a statement affirming that they are Christians, a Muslim man claims Thursday in a federal lawsuit accusing the county and a contractor of religious discrimination.
Lawyers from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, sued Prince George’s County on behalf of Edrees Bridges, who has been a volunteer chaplain at a county jail in Upper Marlboro since 2018.
Bridges, 49, learned in April that the county was hiring a paid chaplain. He asked for an application but couldn’t complete it because all applicants were required to sign a “Statement of Applicant’s Christian Faith” that would force him to abandon his religious beliefs as a Muslim, his lawsuit says.
Prison Ministry of America, which also is named as a defendant in the suit, has a contract with the county to provide religious services to jail inmates. The statement on its job application says Prison Ministry of America employees are “committed to a lifestyle of Christianity and agree with our statement of faith.”
It also asks applicants to affirm that they “believe in one God, Creator and Lord of the Universe,” that “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was conceived by the Holy Spirit” and that “the Bible is God’s authoritative and inspired Word.”
The lawsuit says that kind of religious test is illegal under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits government from establishing a state religion. It also claims the statement violates Bridges’ religious freedom rights.
Bridges said he was shocked and saddened to learn that his Muslim faith would exclude him from the applicant pool.
“I have always encountered people that have been open to that diversity of ideas, diversity of thought,” he said in an interview Thursday. “As a chaplain, one of the core ingredients to being a chaplain is to be there for all.”…..
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