National Television Program on Religious Liberty Features Two Michigan Residents

February 09, 2006

DETROIT - A Genesee County Catholic who was criminally punished for not completing a Pentecostal drug rehabilitation program and a Utica valedictorian whose yearbook entry was censored by the school because it contained a bible passage will be featured in a documentary on religious freedom being aired on Court TV this week. The segment on religious liberty will air Saturday, February 11, 2006 at 12 PM EST on Court TV.

“Despite what one hears in some circles, the ACLU frequently defends the rights of free religious expression for all people,” said Kary L. Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “This episode of the ACLU Freedom Files highlights the critical importance of the protection of individual religious expression and the ACLU’s work on behalf of both majority and minority religions.”

Joseph Hanas, a practicing Catholic, was not allowed to have his rosary beads, bible or a visit by his priest while in a court-mandated drug program. Hanas’ request for a transfer to a secular rehabilitation facility was denied and he was then sentenced to six months in jail and boot camp for not having completed the program.  After exhausting all legal remedies in the Michigan courts, the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit in federal court in December 2005.

Abbey Moler, a Utica student and valedictorian of her graduating class 2001 was invited to submit wisdom or advice for the yearbook.  When Moler’s inspirational passage was not printed, she sought assistance from the ACLU of Michigan. The ACLU of Michigan represented Ms. Moler on her claim that the censorship of her religious verse violated her right to free religious expression, resulting in an out-of-court settlement.

The ACLU Freedom Files, which was created by award-winning producer/director Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed, Unconstitutional) and the ACLU, is produced and directed by Jeremy Kagan. In addition to Court TV and Link TV, The ACLU Freedom Files can be seen on college television network Zilo TV and at www.aclu.tv, where past episodes are streamed for free. DVD copies of the shows can also be purchased on the Web site. The “Religious Liberty” episode is the third segment of the television series, the ACLU Freedom Files, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union.

For more information about the ACLU Freedom Files, visit http://www.aclu.tv
To read December 6, 2005 press release in Hanas, visit http://www.aclumich.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=449
To read about Abbey Moler’s case, visit http://www.aclumich.org/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=353

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