Angola Prison is, as you might expect, not a very pleasant place; some would have characterized it as the worst of the worst. Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is the bloodiest and biggest maximum-security prison in the country covering 18,000 acres (28 sq. miles). Eighty-six percent of Angola's 5,108 inmates are violent criminals serving an average sentence of 88 years; 3,712 of the prisoners are serving life sentences. Ninety-three percent of Angola's inmates will die there.
Warden Burl Cain said of the prison "I had come to realize that criminals are very selfish people . . . they take your money, your property, anything they want for themselves. They sneak around, lie, steal, kill and do whatever they want." That's a harsh characterization, but Warden Cain also said, "I truly believe these men can rebuild their lives, lives that have been shattered by awful crimes, if they embrace a genuine change of heart." He also stated that "Moral rehabilitation is the only real rehabilitation. I can get you education. I can get you to read and write. But if I don't change you morally, you don't change morally; you're still a criminal."
Warden Cain said that life in Angola is "dying by inches; I knew we had to do more." But he had more than complaints, he had a time honored solution, but one that is currently rejected in America: the Bible. While we do not agree with the doctrine that is being taught there, it is astounding that a Theological Seminary is now offering a four-year Bible degree program within the prison.
There are now 200 graduates among the inmates who are preaching Bible there. Congregations have been formed, or as the Warden calls them, positive gangs. The results have been astounding, inmate violence is down 40 percent, and as are rapes, drug use and assaults on guards, inmates run a Christian radio station, and also operate the prison's hospice program.
To those of us who love the Bible, this is great news, but not really all that surprising. Today's atheists are fond of claiming that the Bible is responsible for most of the world's woes, although they usually give examples of religious people who have disobeyed the Bible. No, where the Bible is obeyed, people are peaceful, prosperous, and happy. They have guidance and purpose in their lives, even those that have been ruined by sin. So, we wonder, if this program has been so successful, why isn't it being implemented everywhere? The answer is that not everyone in charge recognizes the practical value of the Bible, and our government will prove to be the most obstinate obstacle. These are operating under the false assumption, the made up constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Recently at Angola prison, pressure has been mounting from groups like the ACLU. The ACLU filed a complaint against the prison because of a large stone monument known locally as the Philippians monument. The monument read, "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead." The words remain on the monument, but the citation, Philippians 3:13, has been removed. Do you suppose that the ACLU will be satisfied with this? I wonder what part of such an encouraging phrase as this that they find objectionable? With the verse citation removed, it is still the quote from Philippians 3:13. The other side of the monument featured what was called a "prayer of protection." It read: "The light of God surrounds you/The love of God enfolds you/The power of God protects you/ And the presence of God watches over you;/Wherever you are, God is." Of course the ACLU complained; they are under the impression that they are the gods of the universe, and how dare God usurp the power of the ACLU.
The state ACLU claims to support the efforts to encourage prisoners to look forward toward changing their lives for the better; but they expect those efforts not to "endorse one religion over another or religion over non-religion." Yes, that was the protocol that resulted in murders, rapes, and assaults. Isn't it past time that this nation told the ACLU to go fly a kite? Haven't they already done enough damage to a nation founded on biblical principles?
"The wicked is banished in his wickedness, But the righteous has a refuge in his death. Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding, But what is in the heart of fools is made known. Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people. The king's favor is toward a wise servant, But his wrath is against him who causes shame" (Proverbs 14:32-35).