The cell or the pew? Courts give prostitutes choice of religion or jail

On the face of it, this sounds like a blatant violation of the First Amendment. In Arizona, prostitutes arrested by police in big sting operations are now given the choice of going to jail or participating in a  “rehabilitation program” run by Catholic Charities, which includes 36 hours of classroom instruction in a church. Although I haven’t yet been able to verify how much religion is actually given to these people, the circumstances sound suspicious. According to American United for Separation of Church and State:

The women arrested in Phoenix’s twice-yearly sex-work stings are forcibly taken to Bethany Bible Church and escorted inside in handcuffs. They are then given the option to avoid criminal prosecution by participating in a sectarian program. Critics, including Americans United, have said that Project ROSE is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

Unfortunately, it is one of a growing number of programs nationwide in which church and state have teamed up in an attempt to lower crime rates, as law enforcement officials hope that a dose of old-time religion can convince criminals to change their ways. But the reality, critics say, is that such programs don’t just raise constitutional concerns – there is also little evidence to suggest that they work.

Nevertheless, the trend is expanding, with police chaplains becoming more common and correctional offici­als increasingly open to evangelical Chris­tian programs to keep convicts from committing new crimes after release.

What instruction is given to these sex workers? Again, details are sketchy but sound goddy; here are some from VICE News:

Under the program’s rules, women picked up by police must authorize Catholic Charities to enroll them in its Prostitution Diversion Program (PDP) located in a section of Bethany Bible Church marked by a sign with a Latin cross, the Project ROSE logo and the words “Prosecutor’s Office.”

Monica [an arrested prostitute] described the class as having the religious overtones of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. In keeping with the program’s Catholicism, no condoms were provided. Neither was child care.

“I wasn’t ashamed about being a sex worker. I kept bringing this up during the diversion program,” Monica told me. “Girls would ask me why I didn’t feel this way. Well, ’cause I don’t. I have the right to my own body.”

Catholic Charities requested that Monica leave early, fearing her influence on others.

Monica’s trial is in March. The prisons she may be sentenced to are brutal. Arizona is the home of the notorious Tent City, an outdoor complex of bunks and razor wire, where prisoners’ shoes melt from the relentless heat.

This is excessive religious entanglement on two grounds. First the state becomes entangled with the Catholic Church. I find it hard to believe that no proselytizing goes on in those church classrooms. Why would Catholic Charities do it without some religious aim, furtive or not? Second, the city is using taxpayer money to funnel the accused into Church-related programs.

To compound the problem, programs like these, according to Americans United, don’t really work, with a high dropout and recidivism rate. Moreover, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the goal of the program, to “rescue” sex workers, doesn’t always jibe with how the sex workers feel about themselves.

Not only is there an apparent problem with organizing busts to send people to a church-backed charity program, but a local group, the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Phoenix, has protested the program because they don’t want to be “rescued” from anything.

Sex workers are out there to make money, not as “victims,” according to the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

Well, be that as it may, I don’t think the law should be in partnership with the church. This isn’t the only case of such unholy matrimony; there’s another one in (of course) Alabama that’s even more blatantly unconstitutional:

A police program in Montgomery, Ala., is also raising some serious constitutional concerns as pastors there have been used to fight crime. TheAtlantic reported in October that city police, facing what had been described as the worst local crime wave in decades, devised a sectarian solution to their problem: “Operation Good Shepherd” (OGS).

OGS ran during the summer of 2013 and involved training local Christian ministers so they were prepared to work crime scenes right alongside police officers. Ministers were sent to active crime scenes and instructed to pray with both victims and perpetrators. Supporters of the operation said this would serve to reinforce morality in a turbulent town.

Notably, no non-Christian clergy were part of this project, and police officials didn’t see a problem with that.

“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Mont­gomery Police Department, and we want to unite those as one,” David Hicks, a police corporal, told local Christian radio.

Although the ministers who participated in OGS were volunteers, the Atlantic reported that the Montgomery police force is paid to train them and provide them with access to crime scenes, making this a publicly funded project. Montgomery’s official police chaplain does not seem to think that was an issue, either.

It is an issue; an even more obvious violation of the constitution given that actual religious practice (prayer) is involved, and prayer from only one denomination. That, at least, is clearly illegal.

Both Americans United and the ACLU are looking into the Phoenix case. I doubt that their letters of warning or press releases will change anything, and it may have to go to court.  But I’m not sure how cut-and-dried this will look if there is no secular alternative. People can argue that there’s no religious proselytizing, and it’s simply a nonreligious outreach by a religious organization.  But that’s not the way the ACLU and Americans United see it:

“This is an especially serious violation of religious freedom,” Americans United Senior Litigation Counsel Gregory M. Lipper said in a press statement on Project ROSE. “The city of Phoenix is rounding up suspects for the purpose of sending them to a religious program, and then threatening to prosecute them if they decline to participate. The government may never force its citizens to choose between religion and prison.”

I agree, although readers may not.

 

 

 

h/t: Tom

137 Comments

  1. merilee
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    sub

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Merilee – I’m a dope who needs educating: what is ‘sub’?

      • GBJames
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Subscribe

      • Draken
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        It means the commenter is in submission (‘islam’) to Ceiling Cat. From there, you can’t get out; you’d end up with scratches all over.

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          Ouch!

        • Filippo
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          “Hurt me! Hurt me!”

          “No!”

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        It’s what you write when you want to subscribe to/ follow a post but you don’t have anything to say at the moment. You need to check the two boxes, as well. Don’t worry, we all started out as dopes:-)

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      //

  2. Charles E. Jones
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    I spent a summer as a Midshipman 3rd class with the United States Navy. There were a number of guys on the U.S.S. California who were given a choice between prison and the Navy. There’s a secular alternative!

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      I work with a lot of ex Navy Nukes who would probably argue that the Navy *IS* prison.

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        OMG…I am a Naval Academy graduate and an ex Navy Nuke….. too many memories. :-)

        • Filippo
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          I went to Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI. There obtained there an all too-easily proffered psychological stereotype regarding “NUPOC’s” (Nuclear Power Officer Candidates).

          • Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

            Are these the same people involved in the recent cheating scandal?

            • Filippo
              Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

              I don’t know.

            • Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

              Sort of. They are enlisted members in the nuclear navy.

      • Kevin
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        For some, everyday life can feel like a prison.

    • Adam M.
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know what they were convicted of, but enlisting known criminals into the armed forces seems like a bad idea to me. I’ve read about problems with gangs being effectively trained in military tactics and gaining access to military weaponry in this way, although I don’t know how prevalent that is.

    • boggy
      Posted August 30, 2014 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Many people who have been to a British boarding school and to prison consider that prison is a softer option.

  3. Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    The religion part is bad enough but the real travesty is not recognizing the right of these adults to do as they please with other consenting adults.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Exactly.

      It’s legal to perform sex acts for pay for the purpose of making pornography.

      It’s legal to touch somebody for pay for the purposes of hair cutting or manicures or massages.

      It’s legal to perform any sex act so long as it’s between consenting adults…

      …and no money is exchanged.

      I am completely flabbergasted that this one form of sex work amongst all others should still be illegal in this day and age.

      It’s very closely related to other forms of prohibition. You can legally grow poppies for their seeds for muffins, but the moment you nick the stems and collect the sap instead of the seeds, you’re a dangerous narcoterrorist. What the fuck?

      I write this as somebody who personally has no interest in drugs nor the services of a sex worker, but nevertheless as somebody who feels that our society loses much of its claim to civilization with the criminalization of either.

      Just as with any other profession that interacts with the public, there needs to be health and safety standards. The person who makes your sandwich needs to wear gloves and an hairnet; condoms or similar protection need to be legally mandated for sex workers. Alcoholic beverages must be accurately labeled for their content; cocaine sold to the public should similarly be tested and labeled for purity and dosage.

      …and, just to make a nod to the main topic: the only way I’d even begin to consider the Phoenix program remotely acceptable is if the Catholic offering were one of many such options available, with diversity in both secular and religious choices. A Catholic monopoly on the service is so horribly bad on so many counts. I mean, really? The institution that runs its own private child rape racket for its leadership offering “counseling” for adult prostitutes?

      b&

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Good points and a little story. My grandmother was a tiny woman from CZ who saw the reds come one night and take her brother away – he was not heard from again. She moved to the states and had a farm. One day the FBI showed up and told her that she had three days to slash and burn her half acre of poppies. She made a mad dash,destroyed the lot,and never grew another poppy again.

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          I’m sorry, CZ is where?

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            Czechoslovakia? It’s an ISO encoding. I’ll remember the ISO number some time soon. About 5 minutes after I get to sleep, probably.

          • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

            czechoslovakia?

          • Draken
            Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            If in doubt of a toplevel domain, just type sex.cz in your browser and you will learn, in a certain but unsafe-for-work-like manner, what country it denotes.

            • Matt G
              Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

              I crossed the border from Germany to the Czech Republic 15 years ago. (As an aside, it took us 30 seconds to get across; when my family did it in ’78 it took 2-3 hours). There were a lot of women standing on the side of the road, just past the border, and in the middle of nowhere. It turned out that they were waiting for German sex tourists, with whom they would interact on a blanket in the woods, or something similar.

            • Posted August 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

              LOL.

          • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            Czechoslovakia. She was from what is now Slovakia.

            • Posted August 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

              Ah, but CS was Czechoslovakia; CZ is Czechia, and Slovakia, SK.

              /@

              • Posted August 31, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

                Not in that most glorious world of philately!

                BTW – what does /@ mean?

              • Posted September 1, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink

                Ah, another standard.

                It’s a Unix-y signature; IRL I use my initials “𝒶𝒶” written one inside the other, resulting in something that looks rather like an “@”.

                /@

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        This is why you probably won’t find a secular alternative because so many secular groups listen to what the prostitutes say.

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          What a silly thought — listening to wimmins, rather than telling them to shut up and bring that sammich already. What makes you think their poor widdle heads are capable of producing anything worth listening to?

          b&

          • Posted September 2, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

            Not just women, but *gasp*, listening to gay men and treating *them* as humans too! ;)

      • microraptor
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t keeping prostitution illegal actually increase the victimization of women? For example, illegal immigrants who are forced into prostitution

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          You’re not worng. It’s frighteningly common for people to kidnap foreign women, smuggle them over the border, and keep them as slaves in the US with threats of handing them over to the border patrol if they try to escape. There’s been a lot of reporting on the matter…I seem to remember the New York Times having some especially powerful pieces, tracing some girls from rural Mexico to brutally degrading urban Mexican whorehouses to break them finally to American suburbia.

          b&

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

            Surely the answer is to fix the immigration laws, and effectively fight the kidnappers, not criminalize prostitution.

            • Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

              Yes, but that would make too much sense and offend our Puritanical sensibilities.

              b&

              • microraptor
                Posted August 29, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

                You know, I’m reminded of an incident I heard of a long time ago (can’t remember where) of a prostitute who was raped by two men, and the judge in the case decided that they were guilty of Theft of Service (a charge that’s normally the result of doing something like not paying your landscaper) instead of rape.

                Puritanical sensibilities indeed.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted August 30, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

            Yes. Prostitution has been legal in New Zealand for about ten years now. It is safer for both workers and clients and despite the warnings of the religious right, the country hasn’t suffered a moral collapse.

    • Brygida Berse
      Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      blockquote
      The religion part is bad enough but the real travesty is not recognizing the right of these adults to do as they please with other consenting adults.

      +100

      In 1970s Poland, during the time when I was growing up, pimping and other forms of financial gain from prostitution of others were illegal, but prostitution itself was not.

      It’s scary to think that a law in a backward communist country was more reasonable and just than laws in parts of the contemporary United States (and there are more examples).

      • Brygida Berse
        Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

        Sorry for messing up the quote. I wish WordPress had the Preview function.

  4. eric
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    But I’m not sure how cut-and-dried this will look if there is no secular alternative.

    It looks pretty cut and dried to me: the state is coercing accused (not even convicted!) criminals into attending religious indoctrination with the threat of incarceration if they don’t. Can’t get any more establishing than that.

    IMO AU should first warn Catholic Charities that they can continue to provide their secular social services (such as job placement) by setting up a non-religious charity to run them, with no religious content. When CC refuses (because they care more about proselytization than giving social help), AU then sues them and wins.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Eric. I’m in agreement with your sentiment generally, but not with the cuts and drying.

      For one thing, Catholic Charities doesn’t strike me as a good choice for a defendant here. To the best of my (finite) knowledge, no Establishment Clause suit against a non-governmental party has ever gotten very far. Moreover, it doesn’t appear that AU has been legally wronged. Without that injury, AU will have a very hard time demonstrating that it even has standing to sue.

      The government, at least, can be held to account in court for acts contrary to Establishment Clause jurisprudence. But standing is still an issue. AU would almost certainly need to collaborate with at least one sex worker willing to raise her hand and formally challenge the program. Things are difficult enough for middle class parents and kids worried about making waves in their community by challenging ID biology textbooks. For a sex worker fighting the Establishment when it has all the advantages of the criminal justice system? The word “heroic” comes to mind.

  5. Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    They should specialize in transforming gay sex workers, then they could kill two birds (sorry to have to use that word) with one stone.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      … ummm, stir two “hornets’ nests” with one stick?
      Any quadruple entendres out there?

  6. Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    As a committed atheist and proponent of the separation of church and state, I am nonetheless here to argue that you might be a bit too critical. There are many charities around the world, and in this country, that originate in religious environments. Actually, I believe that that is probably one of the more powerful and valid arguments in favor or religion: their oftentimes vigorous charitable work.

    I have seen “Catholic Charities” administer all kinds of worthy programs that I have no strong objection to. Of course, this all depends on what actually takes place in the sessions in the first place.

    Besides, of course, Dennis Mitton’s arguments about consenting adults. I wish governments throughout the world stayed out of people’s sexual activities.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Do the johns have that choice as well?

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Good question. What a ludicrous process altogether!

    • Cathy Anne
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is true that religions do good things. However, if you are going to look at the good works of the Catholic Church, you have to look at the bad as well. For example, look at all the death and misery caused by Catholic prohibition of birth control, including condoms in countries suffering high incidence of AIDS.

      Also, charity isn’t exactly altruistic if it comes with strings attached, such as religious proselytizing.

      Being forced to choose between religion or jail should never be happening in a free, civilized society.

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        Oh, goodness, I am with you. I was just giving a “little bit of credit.” Did you ever read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett? Read that book for a good look at Catholicism.

        • Cathy Anne
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t read it but I just found it on audio book at the library. Thanks.

    • Draken
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      I’m quite convinced that these “charities” have but one goal and that is to convert hookers to their religion.

      Why? Because it gives the churches an opportunity to isolate defenseless people (you can get out any time you like, TO PRISON) of the kind they despise the most, namely whores.

      And what, exactly, can these ’36 hours of classroom instruction’ be about? Telling them sex is bad, m’kay? Giving them ample opportunities for alternative jobs that pay half as good? Now there would be a fantastic chance for the authorities, if they think sex work is so deplorable: give these prostitutes a chance for further education and a steadfast job.

      Arguing that they do this for charitable purposes is like arguing that orcas are playing ocean tennis with seals because the seals benefit from it.

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        It’s not like going to driving school when you get a speeding ticket, is it? There is a direct correlation between what you learn at driving school and your future safety in traffic (hopefully). What are you going to learn in hooker school?

        Ok, I take my comment above back :)

        • Draken
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          I find you ideas intriguing. In the Netherlands, prostitution is legalised- and taxed, I might add. Logically, the branch should be subjected to safety control, just as the dairy industry is.

          • Matt G
            Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            Prostitutes in France are highly regulated, and must get regular medical exams. There is a great story of a study that was to be done on the sexual health of French prostitutes. The researchers recruited female professors to serve as the control group (anyone see where this is going?). The study was terminated early because the prostitutes were in better health than the professors.

            • Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

              Can you let me know the specific of this study? (I am easily googlable, or you can leave it here).

              I wonder if my friend Al Spira was involved.

              • Matt G
                Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

                Looking, but have not yet found anything.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      All due respect to those who think there is any good to be had from the church, they should google the use of corporal punishment and the RCC. From the Vatican II Council “”The church may by Divine right confiscate the property of heretics, imprison their persons, and condemn them to the flames.” “Democracy is a mischievous dream where the Catholic Church does not predominate.” -Brownson’s Review. “There is one, and only one, sure democracy, the Catholicism of the Popes” -The Catholic World, Oct, 1937
      I could go on for pages. There are codified exemptions from regulation and transparency with churches, the US tax code is a good example of what not to do with respect to the separation of church and State. Personally, I’d choose the “good sheriff’s” tent city up front. I like my chains and abuse where I can see them.

    • Latverian Diplomat
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Catholic Charities gets the majority of its funding from government grants. In order to qualify for these grants they have to agree to rules separating providing services from proselytization. I wouldn’t give them too much credit for restraint they show just to interpose themselves between the people in need and the government that’s actually helping them.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Charities_USA#Finances

  7. MAZMANIANAC
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if they will counsel the hookers not to acknowledge any of their customers they meet in church–could be very embarrassing!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      They’re more likely to be informed of the discount rates that the Church expect for their early release.

      • Draken
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        I suspect you’re in jest, but I hate to think of the possibility. After all, it’s the catholic church we’re talking about.

        • Matt G
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          And they are the last people who should be lecturing anybody about illicit sex.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          When I lived in the Red Light District of Aberdeen, we’d get regular invasions of “evangelicals” coming to “save” “the poor sinners”.
          Since the working girls would often try to hide in the bars of which I was a regular (partly to get out of the rain, partly for self-medication against their various woes, and partly looking for “business”), I ended up chatting to more than a few.
          My comment above was “ha ha, but serious” ; asking for a discount “because Jeebus” was perfectly normal. Particularly when the punter (EN_US: “John”) wanted bareback anal, it would seem.
          It would get amusingly embarrassing when taking people from work out for a beer and being approached on the “crawl” of the harbour front bars by a girl “Looking for business, guys? Oh, it’s you, Aidan. Have you got a fag lighter I can have?” (* footnote)
          The embarrassment would be considerably alleviated by the barman greeting me the same way, and me pointing out the flat that I lived in a hundred metres away.
          (* footnote :Obviously, she’s going somewhere to cook up a dose of heroin – if she wanted to light a fag (EN_US : cigarette), she’d only need the lighter for a few seconds.)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          @Raven:
          I think the possibility sounds like a win-win. Definitely preferable to have the church worthies paying for it with a professional (even at a discount) instead of violating unwilling kids, no?

  8. Newish Gnu
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Somewhat OT, but… I’m hoping Jerry can give us an update on Lebanon, Missouri

    The people in Alabama who don’t seem to think there is any sort of an issue reminds me of folks in Lebanon, MO.

    I’ve been popping into the Lebanon Daily Record public forum every few days to see what is going on. There is a very small group of commenters overall. Two of them understand the establishment issue. The rest don’t. Comment after comment about “majority rules” and “free speech” and “outside agitators should leave us alone”.

    They Just Don’t Get It.

  9. Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Why aren’t they trying to reform those who pay for the service of prostitutes? They could save time and just incorporate it in their Sunday mass.

    • microraptor
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Because that’s just boys being boys/something guys do/standard male behavior/lame excuse four. The women who are making money because of the demand for the service are obviously much worse than the people who are creating that demand in the first place.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      For the same reason that some Muslim women must live in cloth bags: men simply can’t be held responsible for the actions they take based on their sexual urges.

  10. Adam M.
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading about this a long time ago. They should make an effort to interview these women so they can find out what really happens in these programs.

  11. Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The criminalisation of sex work is, essentially, the state enforcing religious taboos in any case. That’s a violation of the First Amendment in itself.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t consider it so. Just because it’s also a religious taboo doesn’t mean it’s only a religious taboo. Prostitution is, unfortunately, illegal throughout most of the world, not just the Christian parts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_law In fact, just guessing from the map, I’d say it’s most likely to be legal where Christianity is the predominant religion, compared to any other except Hinduism, but that’s also mostly much less well spread.

      • Draken
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Muslims have a very thinly veiled (no pun intended) version of prostitution called nikah mutah or “pleasure marriage”. So they can claim there’s no prostitution in their heavenly caliphate.

        • microraptor
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

          I’ve heard stories about brothels in Saudi Arabia from people in the military who were stationed there. They’re apparently pretty plush establishments. Unfortunately, the person I was talking with couldn’t make the connection when I mentioned Saudi Arabia’s terrible women’s rights record.

  12. Barry Lyons
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    On the face of it, this is terrible. But if this is an awful law that these women are directly powerless to change RIGHT NOW, living in the still-barbaric year of 2014 as they are, they should definitely take the pew. They can fake the religioisity. Not a problem. Deeply annoying and troubling yes, but it can be done. In the meantime, let’s hope that ACLU can do something about this.

  13. Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Notice that this is Phoenix, as in Maricopa County. Another compelling piece of evidence that Sheriff Joe Arpaio just might be the single biggest horse’s ass in the whole of America. The tent city, where numerous inmates have suffered medical emergencies due to the extreme heat, Joe Arpaio. The anti-immigrant invective, Joe loves every bit of it. Absurdly irrational Obama hater, Joe is one of the best and most vocal. He makes his male inmates dress in pink jumpsuits, because that is something that a reasonable adult does. The man is a tyrant and he has no regard for laws that don’t serve his purpose of doling out punishment, disproportionately I might add, to African-American and Hispanic men.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Some might read Bob’s description and think he’s being overly dramatic. In reality, such a short description must of necessity paint a too-rosy and forgiving portrait of Sheriff Joe….

      b&

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        One would have to write a lengthy book to cover all of his transgressions.

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          The Phoenix New Times has practically done that in serial form with their reporting….

          b&

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        Too rosy, as in pink? Doesn’t he make them wear pink undies as well?

        • Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          …and eat green bologna. Might sound like a joke, but it’s not.

          He’s also big on roadside chain gangs. As a friend of mine often says about management at work, “YAKAMATSU — you can’t make this shit up.”

          b&

          • Draken
            Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

            ‘e’s spaghetti eater, ain’t ‘e?

            • Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

              Well, a favorite lunch spot is Cherryblossom Noodles, a Japanese restaurant that specializes in both Asian noodle dishes and Italian pasta….

              b&

              • Posted August 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                Nice place. I think I had smoked eel.

                /@

              • Posted August 30, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

                Excellent choice — a favorite of mine.

                Their tempura is very hard to resist, and their soup bowls are perfect in what passes for winter here.

                b&

              • Matt G
                Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                You smoked what?!

              • Posted August 31, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

                @ Matt G : I should have said, I ate smoked eel. 😉

                @ Ben : I think my wife will have had (eaten!) some tempura.

                /@

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      his purpose of doling out punishment, disproportionately I might add, to African-American and Hispanic men.

      I take it that the sherrif in question is … what’s the word, a “white boy” ?
      So what is disproportionate about punishing people who are “other” (for any and all values of “other”) for the crime of being “other” in addition to whatever crimes they’re accused of under the relevant statute book(-s)? It’s good old racism, or “xenophobia” if you want to use a 2 Euro word where a 50 cent word would do.
      An interesting question would be, what are the odds of Sherriff Honkey being called to task for this, and do those odds differ from the racial make up of his region of control?

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        I take it that the sherrif in question is … what’s the word, a “white boy” ?

        “Good ol’ boy” is the common phrase.

        An interesting question would be, what are the odds of Sherriff Honkey being called to task for this, and do those odds differ from the racial make up of his region of control?

        We elect our sheriffs, and it’s been ages since he’s had a competitive challenger.

        The USDOJ often investigates him or his department. They’ve won some convictions, but not enough to oust him or throw him behind bars. If I remember right, the latest round of charges may well finally do that, though…but honestly, it’s much too depressing to keep up with Sheriff Joe news.

        b&

      • Posted August 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        There is very little likelihood that any punishment more severe than being forced to resign would ever be doled out to a Sheriff of Joe Arpaio’s profile and political clout. Even if he were, for some hypothetical reason, made to resign he would still be a hero to many in his hme state. The far-right population of Arizona is quite large.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:02 am | Permalink

          … he would still be a hero to many in his hme state. The far-right population of Arizona is quite large.

          And someone was recently, on this very site, extolling the virtues of holidaying in America to me.

          • Posted August 30, 2014 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            Well yeah, not in Arizona. Although the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon are pretty spectacular. But we have many other very impressive rocks and trees in more tolerant parts of the country. I LOVE to just be out in the Everglades, but that requires a high tolerance for heat and my sister has thought it’s because I’m part reptile since about 1985. Anyway, find a place in a more temperate, and I mean that both politically and meteorologically, part of the country and visit one of our national parks there. They usually don’t disappoint.

            • Posted August 30, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

              Why only since 1985?

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted August 30, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

              “I’m part reptile since about 1985.”

              By any chance, are you from Dunwich?

          • Posted August 30, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

            America is HUGE!!

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted August 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              America is some 1/14th of the land area of the planet.

              • Posted August 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

                Yes, but it’s a much larger percentage of the climatologically-friendly land area of the planet.

                …of course, California is much of that…and, if the current drought is the new normal rather than an anomaly, then that equation changes significantly.

                Anybody who hasn’t seen this XKCD needs to have a look this instant:

                http://xkcd.com/1410/

                …all totally off-topic, of course….

                b&

              • merilee
                Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                Still big enough to get far enough away from Shriff Joe

  14. Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    If the so-called rehabilitation program were secular, there would be no need for the involvement of a Catholic organization.

    Are Moslem or Jewish harlots given the option of being rehabilitated by organizations run by clergy from their religions?

    I would expect the percentage of strumpets returning to their oldest of professions after having participated in the program to be very high.

    • Posted August 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      What would you call a male prostitute, a strumpetus?

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        A strombone.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        “He asked, as he had asked before, how much is horror more than whore? Do flautists set aside their flutes, and listen while a prostitutes?

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          I have located the entire poem. It is by Willard Espy, and it appeared in the February 1975 issue of Word Ways. I encountered it in Espy’s book An Almanac of Words At Play published that same year.

          He asked, as he had asked before,
          How much is horror more than whore?
          To flautists set aside their flutes
          And listen when a prostitutes?
          He said, I saw a lively group
          Of laughing ladies on a stoop.
          I asked my friends, I asked my teachers
          For names to call the pretty creatures;
          And they, as is their wont to do,
          Replied from varied points of view:

          An orchestra conductor led:
          ‘A flourish of strumpets, lad,’ he said.
          To which the butcher boy rejoins:
          ‘I say … a pride of loins.’

          In ringing tones a campanilist knells:
          ‘A peal … of Jezebels.’
          A teacher of domestic arts:
          ‘A jam … of tarts.’

          A dietician diagnosed the bawds:
          ‘An expanse of broads.’
          A jeweler assayed the self-same maids:
          ‘A ring of jades.’

          ‘To me,’ said a dancer, ‘a wiggle of wenches.’
          ‘To me,’ said a chemist, ‘a beaker of stenches.’
          ‘A cargo of baggage’–such was the guess
          Of Henry, who drives for American Express.

          He asked, as he had asked before,
          How much is horror more than whore?
          Do flautists set aside their flutes
          And listen when a prostitutes?

          • Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

            John Potterat and I are in awe right now. Standing, wiping away solitary tears from both our eyes… slow clapping…

            actually, his precise response was immediate: “outfuckinstandin”.

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

              My work for the day is done, then. But I’ll add this little gem, which was an entry in the old New York magazine contest that was edited by Mary Ann Madden. The task was to write a new definition for an old word, and this was one entry:

              trumpet n. A rostitute. A treetwalker.

            • Posted August 30, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              OT, is John B a relative?

              /@

      • Posted August 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        “What would you call a male prostitute, a strumpets?”

        I call them gigolos.

        • GBJames
          Posted August 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

          And if you were searching for one you might be calling them googlos.

          • Posted August 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

            Just for safety, you should probably wear gogglos when looking for them.

            b&

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      The oldest profession is not prostitute; it is mendicant.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 29, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        The reason for this, of course, is because someone had to beg for it first.

  15. MAUCH
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    The Catholic Church’s success rate on reforming sex offenders through god ain’t to impressive. Especially within its own ranks. Also what about the Johns. Is AZ going to make them right with god as well?

  16. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    In keeping with the program’s Catholicism, no condoms were provided. Neither was child care.

    Why do I feel a chorus of Monty Python’s “Every Sperm Is Sacred” coming on?
    Followed, perhaps, by the “Fiddling About” track from “Tommy” (I forget it’s name ; never even saw the album). After all, you’ve got to keep the brood line of prostitutes going, and getting them started early is an effective tactic around the world. (In excess of 50% of street sex workers in case study after case study in the UK, and there’s no reason to believe that the USA is going to differ significantly.)

  17. Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of religion, interesting video on the practical effects of religion on family lie in the case of a young gay man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1df_i26wh-w

    • rickflick
      Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      What an ugly scene. You could probably make a YT channel called “Practical Effects of Religion”. It would be something you could refer people to when they say, ‘ya but religion does so much good in the world’.

      • Posted August 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        For a very long time atheists have been civil to the degree of silliness. Not long ago the Catholic church threatened to excommunicate a child for having an abortion in Brazil whilst letting her rapist off the hook. Isn’t there something wrong with that scenario?
        What’s preventing us from going for the jugular?

        • rickflick
          Posted August 31, 2014 at 5:19 am | Permalink

          Right, of course. I always wonder about atheist vs antitheist. It seems that the more horror stories you know, the more you just want to plow the whole enterprise under.

  18. Matt G
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Given that choice, I’d go to church for the climate, jail for the company.

  19. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I can see it now – a priest walks into a class full of women enrolled in Project ROSE and half of them say, “Hey, Father Bill! Long time no see!”

  20. Kevin
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I think the prostitutes’ ability to change the local Catholic’s authorities is underestimated. I would not be surprised if the overall effect, long term, was more empathy within the church for prostitutes. Why their profession is deemed bad is lost on me.

  21. madscientist
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    So there’s nothing ever done to actually help these people – they’re simply being told they’re evil and must stop what they do? No jobs, no food, no home … The people running the show don’t seem to be aware of reality.

    • Matt G
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      I go back and forth on this – are the Catholics not aware of reality, or are they well aware of it and do their very best to suppress it?

      • Zetopan
        Posted August 30, 2014 at 1:23 am | Permalink

        Religion exists to escape from the supposed terrors of reality. It is the one thing that they do best.

  22. Latverian Diplomat
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    One thing the article touches on, is the similarity with Alchoholics Anonymous. AA and NA have been getting referrals and other considerations from courts for years. Even though they are ostensibly open to agnostics and atheists, the onus is the participant to try and find a hidden secular meaning for “higher power” and other religious language. And many participants who try to do this are met with hostility from the religious majority.

    And on top of it all, AA has never been demonstrated scientifically to be an effective therapy. As an organization, AA refuses to do this, because they know they already have all the legitimacy they need, and could only be hurt by an actual attempt to assess the truth of their claims.

  23. steve b
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Closer to home, Catholic Charities runs an alcohol and drug evaluation service which has offices in various Cook County, Illinois courthouses, and judges routinely require that people charged with driving under the influence get dui evaluations from them.

  24. J Smith
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Paraphrasing Chinatown

    Forget it, Jake, It’s Arizona.

  25. Randy Schenck
    Posted August 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Why are we not asking the obvious question. If religion is what the prostitutes need then let’s offer it to the “johns”.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 29, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Well, the obvious answer is, what the prostitutes need is money, and what the johns need ain’t religion. ;)

  26. jay
    Posted August 30, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The state has absolutely no business regulating sex life of consenting adults. Case closed

    • Michael
      Posted August 31, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Spot on.


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