Religion

What Does Religion Look Like in Prison?

(Photo: Steven Frame/Shuttertsock)
(Photo: Steven Frame/Shuttertsock)

(Pacific Standard) – “Sorry if I just stabbed you in the back,” Joshua Dubler writes in the closing paragraph of Down in the Chapel. Hugging one of the prisoners whose religious faith his book chronicles, Dubler forgot to cap his pen.

The apology is a joke, but uncomfortably familiar to anyone who has labored to tell the stories of others, especially a group so disenfranchised as the prisoners at Pennsylvania’s largest maximum security prison. Joshua Dubler was a graduate student at Princeton when he began visiting Graterford, which is just outside of Philadelphia. His research at the prison, sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and conducted over six years, included meticulously observing the life of its chapel for years and repeatedly interviewing some of its 3,500 residents.

Down in the Chapel, published last year, is an adapted version of Dubler’s dissertation, a record of one particular week in the life of the chapel, along with 10 broader theses about religious life at the prison. Dubler’s voice is rarely absent from Down in the Chapel, but it blends with many others: a Catholic convert who has studied Greek and Hebrew for seven years since being sentenced to life for murder; an atheist who works as the chapel janitor and thinks more about the philosophy of religion than most seminarians; Cherokee and Lakota prisoners who come together for smudging ceremonies and prayer circles; the rabbi, imam, Catholic priest, Lutheran pastor, and former guerrilla warrior in Sierra Leone’s civil war turned reverend who serve as chaplains; a lazy-eyed Wiccan who wears a silver pentagram but refuses to practice anywhere but his cell; and the many corrections officers, some callous and some caring, who staff the prison.

READ MORE

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker