By ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: November 21, 2012
Initially there was little outcry in Muskogee, Oklahoma., last week when a judge, as a condition of a youth’s probation for a driving-related manslaughter conviction, sentenced him to attend church regularly for 10 years.
James Gibbard for The New York Times
Judge Mike Norman, in his Muskogee courtroom, seemed surprised by the scrutiny. “I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that,” he said.
The judge, Mike Norman, 67, had sentenced people to church before, though never for such a serious crime.
But as word of the ruling spread in state and national legal circles, constitutional experts condemned it as a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state.
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