Officials Close Jailhouse Door to Buddhist Chaplain

February 26, 2007


Source: St. Petersburg Times

Buddhist chaplain Frank Tedesco has instructed murderers to "feel the cool air over the tip of their nose."

He has counseled drug dealers while they "followed their breath" during guided meditations. And by the dozens, inmates at the Pinellas County Jail requested his Saturday afternoon services and asked for literature about the Eastern religion.

But earlier this month, Tedesco learned a valuable lesson in a lifetime full of teaching them: Jail officials stripped him of his duties, citing a breach of contract after three bins of spirituality books found by jail officials were deemed contraband.

Tedesco, 60, an unpaid volunteer, thinks the blowup stems at least in part from a Christian bias.

Authorities said Tedesco simply chewed up the patience of jail personnel while repeatedly breaking strict jailhouse rules.

Whatever the reason, for the jail's 3,000-plus inmates, enlightenment will have to wait.