Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Christian Ministry Challenges Oklahoma Prison Rules

Last week, Wingspread Prison Ministries filed a federal lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections challenging restrictions that interfere with Wingspread's outreach to inmates in Oklahoma. The complaint (full text) in Evangelists for Christ, Inc. v. Jones, (ED OK, filed 2/11/2009), alleges that prison rules allowing inmates to receive books and materials only from publishers, book stores or book dealers impair Wingspread's program of sending Bibles, religious books and other Christian religious materials to prisoners. Additionally the lawsuit challenges prison rules that allow letters to inmates from individuals but not from ministries. The suit claims that these restrictions violate Wingspread's protected speech and religious exercise rights, denies it equal protection of the laws and violates the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act. The Rutherford Institute issued a release last week announcing the filing of the suit.