Judge In The Bible Belt Says Go To Church Or Go To Jail

Judge Norman and Tyler AlredJudge Mike Norman (L), Tyler Alred

Photo: via Think Progress and the Muskogree Phoenix

A judge in Oklahoma, one of the many states to make up America’s famed Bible Belt, has issued a controversial ruling that seems to fly in the face of separation of church and state.Judge Mike Norman told 17-year-old Tyler Alred, who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter tied to a car accident, that he could either go to prison or attend church for 10 years, among other requirements, All Gov reported Sunday.

And Alred’s lawyer doesn’t seem to be objecting.

“I usually represent outlaws, and criminals,” lawyer Donn Baker said in court, the Muskogee Phoenix reported. “This is a kid that made a mistake. Judge, I think he’s worth saving.”

But, as ThinkProgress points out, Norman doesn’t have the right to issue such an ultimatum.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled in Lee v. Weisman that “it is beyond dispute that, at a minimum, the Constitution guarantees that government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise.”

Norman has handed down church sentences several times, according to All Gov.

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