Faith in the Big House explores the formulas used by Christian ministries to convert inmates. At a maximum security prison farm in outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a group of Christian evangelical missionaries conduct a carefully-scripted religious retreat. Five felons, misfits handpicked by the Warden, join other inmates in this "Encounter with Christ".
Can a gang-banger, a self-styled theologian, a narcissistic rocker, a twitchy jock and a former football phenom find redemption? Will the experience change these men? Can religion keep convicts from almost inevitably return to lock-up?
Prison ministry leaders, including the late Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship's Innerchange and former Nixon hatchet man and Watergate co-conspirator, insist revivals and bible studies radically reduce the number of inmates who are reincarcerated. Those of the secular persuasion doubt their findings, such as Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, favoring traditional rehabilitation and and citing long term results. ' Murph the Surf", or Jack Murphy, an infamous jewel thief and ex convict preaches for Day of Champions which features ex football stars, bikers, and all sorts of entertainers whose goal it is to get the inmates up out of their bunks and forming a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Faith considers, after examining the history of religion in prison, and taking us deep inside the prison ministry movement, who should be in charge of re-entry programs such as vocational programs, GED and literacy courses, and drug counseling? Will it be the new armies of faith- based volunteers? Or will the transition back to society remain in secular hands?