God's Politics

God's Politics

Karl Barth Is Going Back to Prison! (by Kevin Lum)

posted by God's Politics

To everyone who took action and emailed the Bureau of Prisons, thank you! On Sept. 14, Sojourners helped break the story that the federal government had created a list of acceptable religious books and purged all other books from the religious libraries. Often these stories fade away and are quickly replaced by the latest crisis, but because of our readers’ dedication and persistence (demonstrated by sending over 21,000 emails in just over a week), the Bureau of Prisons has reversed its policy!
According to their statement provided to NPR yesterday:

In response to concerns expressed by members of several religious communities, the Bureau of Prisons has decided to alter its planned course of action with respect to the Chapel Library Project. The Bureau will begin immediately to return to chapel libraries materials that were removed in June 2007, with the exception of any publications that have been found to be inappropriate.

I received a note today from a friend who works with prison inmates that I would like to share with all of you. It states, “On behalf of all federal inmates and chaplains, I thank you for your crucial part in accomplishing this.” This is not just a thank you to Sojourners, but this is a thank you to each and every one of you who took action.

Kevin Lum is the congregational network coordinator for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Comments read comments(17)
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kevin s.

posted September 27, 2007 at 10:41 am

Common sense prevails.

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posted September 27, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Nice! I wonder what is considered “inappropriate.” Hopefully it’s just the radical Muslim texts urging violence they were trying to get at in the first place.

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posted September 27, 2007 at 4:08 pm

Bravo! Power to the people!

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posted September 27, 2007 at 4:44 pm

YESSSSSSSSSS!!! At last, some positive response from the ‘powers that be.’ Hopefully, this will not be the last time our officials listen to reason.

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posted September 27, 2007 at 4:44 pm

YESSSSSSSSSS!!! At last, some positive response from the ‘powers that be.’ Hopefully, this will not be the last time our officials listen to reason.

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posted September 27, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Great news! It is very empowering to experience how our letters can make a REAL difference. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this critical initiative.
Jenny, British Columbia, Canada

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posted September 27, 2007 at 6:04 pm

This is good news…The whole idea seemed like another silly knee-jerk reaction from an administration that just seems to continually get it wrong.

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posted September 27, 2007 at 6:17 pm

“with the exception of any publications that have been found to be inappropriate.”
How does the Bureau of Prisons determine what is inappropriate?

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N.M. Rod

posted September 27, 2007 at 6:34 pm

This may not be the breakthrough that it seems, but only a temporary respite.
When I looked further, I found that the statement issued said that they were simply not going to be continuing to purge the libraries.
They would hold that in abeyance while the approved lists to be developed are completed before removing the remaining non-approved texts. As well, no texts that have already been removed during the purge will be replaced.
This sounds like typical bureaucratic intransigence and the tone of the announcement is that the initiative is going forward unchanged, just the pace of it is to be slowed grudgingly due to the public outcry.
There has been no change of heart. Read it yourself and see if this analysis is out of line.
The only other possibility is that despite this unacknowledging language, there is really going to be a change but the announcement downplays this in order to save face and in order not to admit that there was ever anything at all wrong with the policy.

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Jack Heller

posted September 27, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Just before this story broke, I had spent almost $300 buying books and supplies for a program in Kentucky that trains prisoners to perform Shakespeare. While I am not convinced that this issue is entirely resolved, at least it’s getting a time out.

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posted September 28, 2007 at 5:38 am

Just as we emailed complaining about the policy we should now email expressing our thanks for the (possible?) change in the policy. Reward the good behavior, and punish the bad. We all have a bit of Pavlov in us…

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David Ioder

posted September 28, 2007 at 5:11 pm

I appreciate the change in policy to no longer restrict books available to prisoners to an approved list. Any list will inevitably omit what could be helpful and useful for prisoners. It is harder to establish criteria for figuring out what literature may be dangerous, but it is worth it. Thank you.
David Ioder

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N.M. Rod

posted September 28, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Apparently the restricted list of what’s allowed isn’t dead yet – just that further removals won’t take place until it is.
I suspect someone’s hoping that this media brouhaha will be forgotten by then and they can then “stay the course.”
Unfortunately, that would be consistent.

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Gary Schrag

posted September 28, 2007 at 10:19 pm

I hope someone keep a vigilant eye. When one wins this easy, watch out. The people who conceived of this act are not to be trusted. They will be back.

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Ted Michael Morgan

posted September 28, 2007 at 10:34 pm

The Lord’s Name Be Praised! Now, indeed watch out.

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posted September 30, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Can you really believe any press release from NPR. What a joke of a news organization. The government should pull their funding. Hail Wallis, or maybe I should say Hail Little Hitler…

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Milt Willford

posted October 2, 2007 at 6:57 am

I, too, am grateful to CALL TO ACTION
for calling us to action. You helped us
find a voice to respond to this “book-burning”
w/o flames. I wish I could be more hopeful
about the “end of the story”. It’s like
waiting for the other shoe to drop during a
stay of execution. Please stay tuned and heep us
in the watchtower.

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