Lawsuit Says Atheist Parolee Spent 5 Month In Jail For Not Attending Bible Study
An atheist man files a lawsuit saying that he was sent back to jail because he refused to participate in Bible study, according to Friendly Atheist.
- Mark Janny was released from jail in 2015 and was told he must live in Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian homeless shelter, if he wanted to remain out of prison.
- The shelter requires residents to attend worship services, which Janny refused to participate in, resulting in his parole officer revoking his parole and sending him back to jail for five more months.
Janny sued in an attempt to overturn the decision but lost the case, likely because he tried to represent himself in court.
- Both the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have taken up Janny’s case and are working with him to appeal the ruling.
- Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director at Americans United said:
“Mark Janny’s parole officer teamed up with shelter administrators to coerce Mark into practicing a faith that is not his own. And when Mark refused to submit to this proselytization, his parole officer retaliated by throwing Mark back in jail. Not only did these actions violate Mark’s religious freedom, but they also represent an alarming example of authority figures taking advantage of a vulnerable man.”
- Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, also gave a statement:
“Throwing someone behind bars for refusing to attend church services is blatantly unconstitutional. Government officials can’t abuse their positions of power to convert parolees, or anyone else, to their preferred faith.”
Both groups are asserting that Janny’s First Amendment rights have been violated and the court wrongly dismissed his case.