Any of us who love books and recognize the power they have to work on the human soul (for good or ill) should be in prayer about this.
To summarize, beginning in an effort to minimize the potential of Islam finding a violence-incubator in the U.S prison system, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has ordered all religious books be removed from the prison library if they are not on the approved list of 150 titles (each religion gets their own 150, I understand).
150 books may seem like plenty to people who don’t read (never mind what got excluded from that list) , but as a reader (and one who gathers most new growth and ideas from reading) I will stand up and say 150 is limiting– especially when, face it, not everyone can read every book.
I include myself in this. There are books I’ve been so glad came from the library, because they just *didn’t* fit.
Just as a point of comparison, I’m going to count the books on my shelves and see how many I have. Two points about this count:
- I just put three or four *boxes* of books under the house last month, so those that are left are:
a) less than the full amount I currently own, and
b) more likely to be of the “proper fit” category, since they were left out.
- The reason for putting all these books away for the present is that the majority of my time is being spent on maintaining a house and children.
Ya’ll can comment and complain if you want to, but no matter what their duties are, I don’t imagine prisoners to be as busy as a mother of three. Leaving out other issues that go along with (perceived) inactivity, these people have a serious need for good books.
If you click on the link above it will take you to the original talk addressing this issue, and here is a link to Justice Fellowship’s Legislative Action Center to learn what you can do to help preserve prisoners’ religious freedom.
Some will argue the whole point of prison is for freedom to be limited, with which I’d largely have to agree. However, on some level, I think all of us wish the prison somehow improved the fallen citizens it eventually disgorges back into society.
For those of us too busy in this season of life to visit those in prison, I hope we will at least remember to support those who are laboring in that field. One way is to pray their tools (among them, the variety of books available) won’t be stolen as they try to build the house.
Knowing that it is only God who can change a man (or woman)’s heart, we should be excited at how open prisoners are to the gospel, and perhaps use this struggle as a reminder to be more purposeful toward them in our prayers.