The Religion Wars

Major religions are constantly at odds with one another. Each of them say they are the only ones who are right, with serious metaphysical implications for those who are not part of their religion. When they look for new members, it’s more than a business pursuing new customers; it’s a fight for everyone’s very soul.

Christianity, in its various forms, has long been the most evangelical, searching for new converts in a fervent desire to grow their ranks and save people from Hell. But now it’s their ancestors, the Jews, who are making serious inroads when it comes to finding new members, and they’re doing it in what has long been a base of Christian conversion: prisons.

For years, it’s been a common occurrence for prisoners to “find Jesus” while behind bars, and at least in theory turn to the Christian faith. It happened so frequently it even became a punch line for many lazy comedians. Of course, it made sense that converts would find Jesus in prison before, say, a rabbi, because it was the Jews that arrested Jesus and convinced the Romans to execute him. It’s been 2,000 years of payback for Jesus.

But the Jews have found a new strategy, and it all goes back to the food restrictions laid out in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Large numbers of prisoners are claiming to be adherents to the Jewish faith in order to get kosher meals.

Personally, I'm skeptical of their hamburgers.

Personally, I’m skeptical of their hamburgers.

If you read the article linked to in the paragraph above, you’ll learn that Florida, which has the third-largest prison population in the country, is under a court order to start serving kosher meals to eligible inmates, ending their run as one of the 15 states that didn’t require it. They stopped serving the meals in 2007 because the kosher meals were too expensive, costing around $7 a day instead of the $1.54 a day to feed the gentile masses of inmates. If only they could find somebody good at negotiating deals to bring down that price.

Of course, in order to be an eligible inmate, a prisoner has to be Jewish. They can’t get the meal just by saying they want it. Instead, they have to say they hold a sincere belief in Judaism. That is the extent of the test.

There have been attempts to use more rigorous methods for determining whether someone really is Jewish or they just want some of that sweet matzo. But prison officials and rabbis who have tried to quiz inmates about the religion were told that’s no way to test for belief, which is fair, since if passing a knowledge quiz administered by experts was required to call yourself a Christian, there’d be a lot fewer Christians in this country. Others who wanted to test the lineage of inmates to see if there was a cultural Jewish background were also told to stop. The courts have shown no desire to get into the murky waters of figuring out prisoners’ true beliefs.

Which is probably a wise decision, when you consider this country's history of using murky water to determine someone's faith.

Which is probably a wise decision, when you consider this country’s history of using murky water to determine someone’s faith.

Of course, that leaves a lot of leeway for prisoners. In the face of the lawsuit that led to this court order, Florida instituted a pilot program to see what the results could look like, offering kosher meals at a prison facility near Jacksonville. Initially, 250 inmates signed up. Once the rest of the inmates got a look at the eating conditions, the number of avowed Jews in the prison grew to 863.

That’s incredible growth! And sure, some say the surge was produced by inmates wanting the kosher meals because they are boxed and sealed, and thus different from the “food” the general population is served. And okay, this is a regular occurrence when the program is introduced, and then the numbers decline as inmates actually have to eat nothing but kosher food (and have fewer meal options as a result). But that’s still more than a tripling of the Jewish faith in an incredibly short time span! And the expected next head of the Florida Department of Corrections estimates the number of Jewish inmates claiming kosher meals could start at nearly 4,500. That’s already triple the number of Jewish inmates in New York, which has a larger prison population than Florida, and that same expert expects the number could “balloon” once the meals start being served.

There are of course measures being looked at to curb this Judaic takeover. Florida’s initial plan to cut out the kosher meals completely because of cost may have been overturned, but there are bright minds at the highest level considering this problem and how to make sure Christianity continues to reign supreme in this land. When Senator Greg Evers, the Republican chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, heard the estimates, the problem-solving center of his brain immediately went into overdrive:

“Is bread and water considered kosher? Just a thought. Just a thought.”

In fact, it is kosher, Senator. And to be even more Biblically–or, sorry, Torahnically–accurate, you don’t even have to add yeast to the bread. Unleavened bread and water was the Jewish fare for most of their trip from Egypt to the promised land.

That would solve the problem of costly kosher meals and likely the increasing conversions to Judaism, but this debate is just the tip of the iceberg. While it would seem the Jews more or less fell accidentally into this recruiting tool, the playbook is now plain for all to see. What if a crafty religion decided to go a step further?

Let’s assume for a moment that Fox News is right–and when are they ever wrong?–and that the Muslim community is out to destroy us and our great nation. Considering our courts have already made it plain that we have to follow religious convictions at meal times, all they have to do is “find” new religious texts that show the prophet Muhammad commanded them to only eat the finest foods, like well seasoned steaks cooked to perfection with a rich truffle sauce. They could then demand that prisoners who profess to follow Islam be allowed to eat according to their beliefs. Prisons would be forced to serve this food to the Muslim population. This would be a double whammy: droves of prisoners would become Muslim in order to eat these meals, increasing the number of Muslim terrorists in this country (and if they’re not terrorists, then why are they in prison?); and the increased costs of these expensive meals being served to an ever increasing number of inmates could bankrupt the prison system and possibly the country. Those devious terrorists!

I think the correct answer is clear: we cannot allow prisoners to have kosher meals so as to prevent a terrorist conspiracy from taking down this country.

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