July 22, 2004 – A Michigan man is claiming that a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program tried to convert him from Catholic to the Pentecostal faith, and that he was forced to read and memorize tenants of the church. Joseph Hanas says that when he dropped out of the program because of the proselytizing, he was punished by the court. The American Civil Liberties Union has stepped forward to help Hanas with his case.
"I needed help," said Hanas. "Instead, I was forced to practice someone else's religion."
The Inner City Christian Outreach Residential Program, part of a local Pentecostal ministry contracted by Genesee County to help rehabilitate prisoners denied the charges. Genesee Circuit Judge Robert M. Ransom, also an Inner City Christian leader, claims Hanas entered the program voluntarily in January 2003. After two months, Hanas dropped out of the rehab program, and Ransom sentenced Hanas to six months in jail and boot camp.
Hanas is appealing to the state Supreme Court." This man was punished for insisting on the right to practice his own religion and refusing to be religiously indoctrinated as a condition of a court order," said Kary Moss of the Michigan ACLU.