I have opened the doors of the Bradley County jail to churches and ministries in our community who want to hold Bible studies for those who are incarcerated. Inmates are not required or forced to attend these studies and we do not give any preferential treatment to one religion over another.Right. Nobody has to attend, but ...
First of all, Sheriff Gobble is flat-out wrong about the Christian roots of the country. Most of the founders were not Christians, they were Deists who explicitely rejected the divinity of Jesus. A few, such as Thomas Paine and possibly Thomas Jefferson, were Atheists.
More importantly, while I appreciate Sheriff Gobble's intent – I'm sure he believes he's doing a good thing – this is yet another example where Christians get special treatment, and possibly preferred treatment, in a country that is supposed to have true religious freedom for all. Not just Christians.
If Sheriff Gobble is a true Christian, he would invite representatives of any and all persuasions, to come and proselytize at his jails. Would he welcome me, for example, to come and explain to his inmates how they've been tricked by a two thousand year old myth that has led them into a world of irrationality, and possibly contributed to their criminal behavior? Would he welcome Hindus or Budhists who would turn his prisoners away from Christ? I'd be willing to bet money the answer is "No!" Yet, Sheriff Gobble would certainly welcome a Christian minister whose goal was to convert atheists to Christianity, or to renew the faith of "faltering" Christians.
That's discrimination, plain and simple, and it's illegal.
Here are two other blogs I wrote that you might find interesting: