Incarcerated and Valued

The Paradise Father values all his children. No matter what our station in life, he forgives our sins even before we think to ask for such forgiveness. Divine mercy is beyond our mortal comprehension—it is all encompassing for those who seek such mercy. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, we see the Father’s love through the teachings of the Master, even for those who have failed to live up to their highest potential.

We can all find comfort in these teachings as we look back upon our own lives, reflecting on our best and worst times in life, and contemplating our destiny in the life after this. For those who believe the teachings of The Urantia Book, there is a comfort in knowing that divine justice and divine mercy are available to all who desire to know the Father and live according to his will.

But does divine mercy extend to those who find themselves incarcerated in our nation’s prisons, having been found guilty of the most heinous crimes by a jury of their peers? Do those who robbed, raped, stole, deceived or even took another’s life deserve divine mercy? The answer is a definitive yes, but there is a catch!

This fact is affirmed in the example of Jesus’ conversation with the condemned criminal in Corinth.

My brother, you have fallen on evil times. You lost your way; you became entangled in the meshes of crime… Your fellows must judge you by what you did, but there is a Judge to whom you may appeal for forgiveness, and who will judge you by your real motives and better intentions. You need not fear to meet the judgment of God if your repentance is genuine and your faith sincere. The fact that your error carries with it the death penalty imposed by man does not prejudice the chance of your soul to obtain justice and enjoy mercy before the heavenly courts. [Paper 133:4.12, page 1475.5]

It is instructive to reflect on Jesus’ teachings at Tyre when he stated:

Make not the mistake of estimating the soul’s worth by the imperfections of the mind or by the appetites of the body. Judge not the soul nor evaluate its destiny by the standard of a single unfortunate human episode. Your spiritual destiny is conditioned only by your spiritual longings and purposes. [Paper 156:5.9, page 1739.4]

Urantia Association has a dedicated group of volunteers whose mission is to provide those who are incarcerated with an opportunity to learn about these soul-saving messages from The Urantia Book. This group is organized under the umbrella of the Dissemination Committee and are known as PIRT (Prisoner Inquiry Response Team). These volunteers first organized in 2005 and have been active in answering inmate inquiries about The Urantia Book while holding an unflinching belief that all persons are valued, regardless of past errors or bad behavior.

Since the inception of PIRT over 2,000 books have been sent to individuals in prisons throughout America. We are reminded that the angels of heaven celebrate when lost sheep are found—PIRT’s mission is to find those lost sheep and return them to the fold.

Not many people know this, but the effort to seed The Urantia Book in our nation’s prisons started due to the efforts of a lone woman who worked with Urantia Foundation to place around 300 hardcover books into the prison system back in 2000. Since that time, thousands of inmates have written to the Foundation seeking a book for themselves.

As with each of us, the book often turns out to be a lifesaving resource, a constant companion for these truth-hungry individuals. There is nothing more fulfilling than to read the many heartfelt testimonials and letters of thanks for the gift of revelation and its uplifting messages of love and forgiveness.

God requires progress from each and every one of us in our life’s journey. The PIRTeam is here to encourage those inmates who contact us that they can change their outlook on life, that they can become better citizens, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers. We believe that the saving messages in The Urantia Book will find resonance in their hearts, which, in turn, will help to reduce the recidivism rate that is epidemic in this country.

Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice indicate a very high arrest rate after release, which results in a return to prison. The 2018 Recidivism Study of State Prisoners tracked a sample of former inmates from 30 states for a period of 9 years after their release (2005-2014).

Below are a few highlights from the study:

  • The 401,288 state prisoners released in 2005 had 1,994,000 arrests during the 9-year period, an average of 5 arrests per released prisoner.
  • 44% of released prisoners were arrested during the 1st year following release.
  • An estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years and 83% within 9 years.

We should remember that The Urantia Book authors tell us that the chief inhibitors of spiritual growth are prejudice and ignorance. We can help inmates to curtail both of these impediments by offering them the higher truths found in The Urantia Book as an act of loving service to our fellow man. By being exposed to the marvelous teachings of Jesus, it is very possible that the temptation to return to a life of crime will be greatly diminished, perhaps even eradicated entirely.

More than 140 federal and state facilities in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi were recently polled for interest in placement of The Urantia Book in their libraries. The response has been very encouraging; library directors responded positively with requests for a book at their facility. Seeding the nation’s prisons and jails with the book has proven to be a successful model and one that PIRT is actively pursuing with a new prison library seeding program that will send approximately 170 books (English & Spanish) to select facilities across the country.

A progressive and spiritually infused humanity is an important step toward the era of Light and Life on our dear planet. We have a great revelation to share and it is those “tossed out, forgotten criminals, the lost sheep” to whom PIRT offers life-saving ministry. We believe that all souls are valued, that effort is often needed to help people to realize their true potential in the family of God.

Jesus lived the ideal human life. For those who discover Jesus’ way of living, he can serve as a role model for today’s life struggles. The book’s authors tell us that Jesus/Christ Michael loves us all so completely because he truly values each and every one of us, regardless of our faults, mistakes and failings. There is no restriction on the love of Jesus, even for those who languish in our nation’s darkest of places.

Jesus disclosed to this world a higher quality of righteousness than justice—mere technical right and wrong. Divine love does not merely forgive wrongs; it absorbs and actually destroys them. The forgiveness of love utterly transcends the forgiveness of mercy. Mercy sets the guilt of evil-doing to one side; but love destroys forever the sin and all weakness resulting therefrom. Jesus brought a new method of living to Urantia. He taught us not to resist evil but to find through him a goodness which effectually destroys evil. The forgiveness of Jesus is not condonation; it is salvation from condemnation. Salvation does not slight wrongs; it makes them right. True love does not compromise nor condone hate; it destroys it. The love of Jesus is never satisfied with mere forgiveness. The Master’s love implies rehabilitation, eternal survival. It is altogether proper to speak of salvation as redemption if you mean this eternal rehabilitation. [Paper 188:5.2, page 2018.1]