The despotic theocracy espousing the "go to church or go to jail" rule is Oklahoma. In sentencing a 17-year- old to probation for a vehicle related manslaughter charge, Oklahoma state court Judge Mike Norman ordered the defendant to attend church for 10 years.
"If Mr. Alred stops attending church or violates any other terms of his probation, Judge Norman said, he will send him to prison," reports the NY Times.
In response to concerns raised about the constitutionality of such a sentence, Judge Norman says,
“I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.”
I would hope that my undergraduate students would know the answer to that one. I would think there would be a pretty good success rate if I wrote that query up as an exam question. At least Judge Norman didn't make any ruling about the denomination of church that the defendant must attend. But he certainly had one in mind, saying,
“I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”
People of the theocratic republic of Oklahoma could use a little help from the spirit of James Madison.
Apparently Alabama already has in place a program similar to Judge Norman's: