Missouri Sentences Convicts To Transcendental Meditation

A few of Missouri’s judges are using Transcendental Medi\xadta\xadtion (TM) as a sentencing tool.

Judge David Mason of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri in March sentenced a woman who pleaded guilty to numerous charges of violations of elections law and of possessing crack cocaine to training in TM along with community service, reported the Asso\xadciated Press.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi popularized TM a derivative of Hinduism in the United States and, according to his Web site, five million people practice it worldwide. The site claims TM is easy to learn and requires sitting with eyes closed for 20 minutes two times a day. Allegedly, this form of meditation helps the mind overcome discursive thoughts in order to enter an enlightened state of consciousness.

Mason told Riverfront Times, a St. Louis weekly, that he believes TM is a successful tool for rehabilitation.

“Of the more than a hundred I’ve sentenced, maybe three or four have come back in front of me,” said Mason.

The news weekly reported that five state and federal judges in Missouri also include TM in sentencing.

Md. Funding For Church Gathering Sparks Controversy

A debate about church-state separation erupted among Maryland lawmakers over Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s proposal to grant $150,000 for a religious conference.

Democratic representatives objected to the proposal on church-state grounds, among others. However, a committee of lawmakers approved the grant for the National Baptist Con\xadgress of Christian Education’s annual conference in Baltimore pending a review by the attorney general, reported The Gazette, a weekly covering several Maryland counties.

Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch told the newspaper that the allocation is “very unusual.”

“Obviously, there’s a concern whether this is constitutional or not,” he said.

State Del. Richard S. Madaleno (D-Mont\xadgomery County) is one of the lawmakers who chafed at Ehrlich’s grant for the religious conference, which is scheduled for June.

“I don’t see how this has anything but a religious purpose…for a group that is evangelizing Jesus Christ,” Madaleno told the newspaper.

A letter posted on the Baptist conference’s Web site states that the group is “convinced the 2006 Annual Session will be Holy Ghost filled and soul stirring for all in attendance. We plan to ensure that your Congress week is one of the most spiritual, productive, and meaningful weeks you have ever had as we exalt the Savior, equip the saints, and evangelize the lost to the Glory of God.”

As Church & State went to press, the Maryland attorney general had not issued an opinion on the issue.