ACLU Does Not Support Plans to Build Chapels At State Prisons

November 30, 2000

Source: The Times-Picayune

On November 30, 2000, The Times-Picayune reported that "Gov. Foster and the American Civil Liberties Union are at odds again, this time over plans to build chapels at state prisons. Foster and his wife, Alice, held a news conference Wednesday as honorary co-chairs of the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation, an organization that has raised $1 million to build chapels at penitentiaries around the state. The Fosters announced that construction will begin soon on new interfaith chapels at Avoyelles Correctional Center in Cottonport, C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center in DeQuincy and Elayn Hunt Correctional Center at St. Gabriel, with others to follow when finances permit. The governor called the projects good news, saying statistics show that prisoners who participate in worship activities are less likely to commit more crimes and return to prison. Foster was asked if his backing of the religious activity would start trouble with the ACLU, which has clashed with him over school prayer and other issues in the past. 'I hope not,' Foster said. 'These are nondenominational chapels. That's why we're doing it with private money.' But Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana branch of the ACLU, said that doesn't solve the problem. 'It raises some issues of separation of church and state and favoring one religion,' Cook said. 'Some of the wardens have made it very clear they have a preference for one religion over another -- Christianity.'"