Kansas Department of Corrections, add Eastern Orthodox Church as recognized religious choice.

Kansas Department of Corrections, add Eastern Orthodox Church as recognized religious choice.

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Christa Conrad started this petition to KDOC Director of Religious Programming Gloria Geither and

Problem
Currently, the Kansas Department of Corrections specifically recognizes many and various religious groups from Native American to Muslim, and from Wicca to Buddhism. They also recognize many variants of the Christian faith from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses along with numerous Protestant denominations such as Baptist, Nazarene, Methodist, etc. But the Church which is not specifically recognized is the one that pre-dates them all - the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Prior to the Protestant Reformation in 1517 AD, the only options as a Christian were the Orthodox Church and Roman Catholicism. And prior to 1054 AD (the split off of Rome from the Orthodox Church) the only option as a Christian was the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian group worldwide, second only to Roman Catholicism, and is almost the exclusive Christian Church in Greece, Serbia, the Baltic States, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Georgia, Egypt, and many other places around the world. In the west, the Orthodox Church is less known, although it is growing and has been present on the North American continent since 1794.

Yet even with the history and size of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Kansas Department of Corrections still makes an Orthodox Christian inmate select "Other" as their religious affiliation.

Why is this a problem?

In the KDOC, if a pastor/priest is part of an identified religious group, he may have pastoral visits with inmates on a regular basis, he may meet with multiple inmates at the same time, and the inmate can follow the religious and dietary obediences of that faith. But if the religious group is not specifically identified, the pastor/priest must be placed on the visiting list of one inmate and that pastor/priest may only visit that one inmate. Even if there are other inmates with the same religious affiliation in the same facility or in another facility, that pastor/priest may not meet with them either individually or in a group. Likewise, the inmate is not given any special approval for his religious or dietary requirements, and is forced to choose "Other" as religious affiliation on department forms.

Solution
There are some facilities within the KDOC that already have approved the Eastern Orthodox Church as a valid, approved religious group - such as El Dorado and Hutchinson. But there are others that have not - such as Lansing, Larned & Ellsworth. This petition is designed to ask the Kansas Department of Corrections to make the Eastern Orthodox Church an approved religious group in every facility under it's jurisdiction, to remove the red tape requirements that an Orthodox Christian inmate must meet in order to receive pastoral visits, meet in a group with other Orthodox Christian inmates, and follow appropriate diet and religious practices.

Personal story
While K.C. & R.M. were in El Dorado, an Orthodox priest from Wichita was able to visit them. This priest had already gone through the volunteer program and was approved for group meetings with Orthodox inmates in Hutchinson. He didn't have to go through the volunteer program again, but he did have to get re-approved for group meetings in El Dorado.

In a department-wide inmate transfer, K.C. and R.M. were moved to Lansing.
Another Orthodox inmate J.B. was also at Lansing. Two separate Orthodox priests from the Kansas City area attempted to receive approval for group visits at Lansing, but the inmates and the priests were given bureaucratic red-tape answers and ultimately these inmates went over a year without visits from their priest and without even being allowed to meet together with each other for common support and edification. The priests were never approved for entry into Lansing.

K.C. has since been moved to Larned and the original priest from Wichita has been approved for pastoral visits with him. R.M. has been moved to Ellsworth and a priest from Hillsboro has been approved for pastoral visits with him. I have lost track of J.B.

However, these priests are only allowed to visit one inmate. They cannot visit other inmates either in a group or in other facilities because the Orthodox Church is not a department-wide approved religious group. And there are other inmates who would attend if given the opportunity.

Many "kites" (requests) have been submitted and the chaplains at each facility have been queried many times about this situation. The only responses being received are "it takes time" or "be patient" or "we are working on it". But after several years of this runaround, it is necessary to take this to the next level. Media contact will be next.

Please sign this petition asking those in authority at the Kansas Department of Corrections to add the Eastern Orthodox Church to the list of choices for approved religious affiliation.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!