The sentence was four years to life in prison, with parole.
But Alred won’t be serving any time in jail, provided, that is, he goes to church every Sunday for the next 10 years.Well, I'd certainly take that deal. I understand why secularists are fighting sentence, as they should, but ... if I were that kid, I'd be glad my case got assigned to that particular theocratic judge.
On principle, I'm opposed to sentences of church attendance (as I am to AA sentences), and yet I have a hard time mustering the outrage for this instance. Certainly, such a sentence violates separation of church and state and should never be imposed, and if unchecked, what is harmless enough in this case -- if we concede the kid caught a break, weekly church attendance being less onerous than prison, one assumes -- could easily lead to church sentences for lesser offences.
If anything, the sentence may be too lenient. If we want our punishments to deter future offences, this doesn't seem likely to serve that purpose. What if the offender were already a parishioner? Would s/he be sentenced to attend a more fundamentalist church?
My advice to that kid would be keep his head down, mouth shut, and let the chips the fall where they may in terms of possible challenges. It'd be asking a lot for him to speak out against the sentence on principle, or to choose the prison term. He should applauded if he does for standing up and taking his punishment like a man.
Should the sentencing stand, and he does the ten years of Sundays, I hope for his sake he reads widely and deeply from a list of authors including Dawkins, Harris, Paine, Twain, Rawls, & Dworkin the other six days and emerges from this ordeal humbled and chastened, but also wiser and more compassionate: an unlikely outcome should he bury himself dutifully in the Bible in the false belief the judge in his case understood anything about justice.