Friendly memo to those of faith: Please stop telling atheists to participate in religious meetings and/or activities, and atheists won't insist that you stop believing in your god.
In today's Los Angeles Times there is an article about an atheist parolee in California who was sent back to prison after Just Saying No to being forced to undergo drug rehab at a religious-based treatment center. The court decision was unanimous:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said a jury should award Barry A. Hazle Jr., a drug offender, compensatory damages for his loss of freedom and could consider possible punitive and emotional distress damages as well.
The appeals court also ordered a district judge in Sacramento to reconsider whether to issue an injunction to prevent California officials from requiring parolees to attend treatment programs that emphasize God or a “higher power.”
Hazle had served time, but then California ordered him to spend 90 days in a 12-step program. He requested a secular program instead, but he was told such a thing didn't exist, and he resisted the religious version.
The treatment center said that Hazle was disruptive “in a congenial way.” See? He was a nice disrupter. A friendly disrupter. As his reward for being Mr. Congeniality, his parole was revoked and he was sent back to the pokey for 100 more days.
What's an affable disrupter to do? Sue, of course. And a federal court ruled in his favor saying that his constitutional rights were violated. The judge ordered a jury to come up with monetary damages, and they awarded him-- wait for it-- zero. Zilch. Nada.
So now another jury will be convened to determine Hazle’s compensation.