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Should a Judge Be Allowed to Mandate Church as a Term of Probation?

Or is that a clear violation of the separation of church and state?

Earlier this year, a judge sentenced an Oklahoma teen to 10 years probation, the terms of which included regular church attendance, for a manslaughter charge.

Tyler Alred, now 17, had been drinking when he crashed a pickup truck on Dec. 3, 2011, according to Tulsa World reports. The accident killed a 16-year-old passenger who was reportedly a friend of Alred. Although not legally drunk, it is reported that because Alred was below the legal drinking age he was still considered to be under the influence of alcohol. He was sentenced after pleading guilty, and the terms of probation included the church mandate. Alred, a regular church-goer anyway, reportedly does not object to the probation requirement involving church attendance.

However, that particular requirement has raised issues of separation of church and state by a University of Oklahoma law professor. In addition, University of Tulsa law professor Gary Allison told KTUL that the church requirement "speaks to maybe forcing people to do religious activities that they would otherwise not do on their own free will … I don't know why a church would want to have someone come to it under the force of government."

So what do you think? Should a judge be allowed to impose a church requirement as a term of probation or is this a violation of the separation of church and state?

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