I agree that extremist materials need to be kept out of prison libraries, but this just goes too far.
Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries.
The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources. In some prisons, the chaplains have recently dismantled libraries that had thousands of texts collected over decades, bought by the prisons, or donated by churches and religious groups.
I understand that there needs to be screening, and I acknowledge that libraries can't accommodate everything. However, consider what the approved list includes -- and does not include.
The Bureau of Prisons said it relied on experts to produce lists of up to 150 book titles and 150 multimedia resources for each of 20 religions or religious categories — everything from Bahaism to Yoruba. The lists will be expanded in October, and there will be occasional updates, Ms. Billingsley said. Prayer books and other worship materials are not affected by this process.
The lists are broad, but reveal eccentricities and omissions. There are nine titles by C. S. Lewis, for example, and none from the theologians Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth and Cardinal Avery Dulles, and the influential pastor Robert H. Schuller.
Mainstream theologians and popular pastors have been excluded. How absurd! It appears as if intellectual laziness is the criteria for inclusion of materials -- I won't say theological bias is at work, other than a bias against weightier works.
And, of course, the problem that is being dealt with has never particularly been one coming from Christian and Jewish works. The hatred and extremism has been imported by "The Religion Of Peace" that attacked us six years ago tomorrow -- but actually dealing with the foul propaganda that advocates hatred and extremism would be seen as an example of bias, so everyone's religious material needs to be restricted lest the ACLU and CAIR file suit.