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Articles by Tanya Erzen

Exposing the Audacious Project to Make Christian Converts in America's Prisons

With a higher incarceration rate than anywhere in the world, the United States prison system has placed its faith in Christian prisoners.

by Tanya ErzenBeacon Press

It’s hard to focus on anything, much less the Book of Jeremiah, when the air presses against your skin like steam, and it’s not even 9 a.m. In Louisiana, a May morning like this portends a truly oppressive day, and for prisoners, one without the reprieve of shade, air-conditioning, or privacy. For the three women missing from the college class, sent to disciplinary segregation for violating one rule or another, the small room each is confined to twenty-three of twenty-four hours a day is a sweltering prison within a prison. The chapel classroom is an alternative to the “hole,” even with the cinder-block monotony of its walls disrupted only by a map of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. Monica renews her focus. She has a final exam next week, and this is the professor’s review session. What are the symbolic acts in Jeremiah, the professor asks. Monica, scrutinizing her Bible on the battered table, must describe the meaning of the basket of figs and which prophet saved Jeremiah, if she is ...