beards

Close shave: Dallas Morning News clips crucial religion content from prison beards story

Close shave: Dallas Morning News clips crucial religion content from prison beards story

With its story this week on beards in Texas prisons, The Dallas Morning News does a nice bit of foreshadowing.

Both the "For God's sake" headline and the "come-to-Jesus" lede provide a strong hint of the level of seriousness with which the Texas newspaper will treat the religion content.

In other words, not seriously at all.

Let's start at the top:

AUSTIN — Last year, Mario Garcia had a come-to-Jesus moment. The 29-year-old father of six, wanted on a domestic violence charge, flipped his truck as he was trying to outrun police. He lost his freedom. Again.
Last week, sitting in a gymnasium at the Travis State Jail, a large silver cross dangling over his white prison uniform, Garcia said he considers his second prison stint a blessing.
“It’s made me slow down and opened my eyes,” he said. “Faith is a major factor in my life right now.”

Perhaps the Morning News intended that "come-to-Jesus" opening to be clever rather than flippant and cliché, but the newspaper never gets around to describing how Garcia came to faith.

Was he a Prodigal Son who returned to the religion of his youth? Or did he find Jesus behind bars? This shallow report seems oblivious to such obvious questions.

The news peg is, of course, tied to that U.S. Supreme Court ruling on prison beards earlier this year:

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For Supreme Court, it's all about that Muslim beard — or was religious liberty case really about Hobby Lobby?

For Supreme Court, it's all about that Muslim beard — or was religious liberty case really about Hobby Lobby?

Did you hear about the U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Muslim inmate's right to grow a beard for religious reasons? 

In case you missed it, justices ruled unanimously Tuesday in inmate Gregory Houston Holt's favor.

From The Washington Post:

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the court, said Arkansas prison officials had violated a federal law passed to protect religious practices from policies set by state and local officials.
Alito said the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act does not require a prison to grant religious exemptions simply because a prisoner asks or because other prisons do. But he said Arkansas officials offered no evidence that a short beard presented security risks or could serve as a hiding place for contraband, as the officials once argued.

Most of the media coverage — from CNN, The New York Times and others — seems pretty straightforward.

But give The Associated Press and the Post extra credit for explaining the prisoner's religious reasoning.

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Nidal Hasan’s mysteriously religious beard

A few months ago, I looked at coverage of a judge’s order that the beard of alleged Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan must be shaved. We have a bit of an update to that story from the Associated Press:

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