Sunday, October 31, 2004

Does accommodating religious practice violate First Amendment? commentary:

"First, a little background: The Ohio prisoners sued claiming they were denied access to religious literature and the opportunity to conduct worship services. They invoked the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), passed by Congress in 2000."

"Under RLUIPA, prison officials can’t impose a substantial burden on the religious practice of inmates unless there is a compelling reason to do so (such as security or discipline) — and there is no less-restrictive way to protect the state’s interest except by placing the burden ."

“This is a reasonable law,” argues Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “that requires prisons to meet the religious needs of inmates while still respecting the security concerns of correctional institutions.”

The question is, if the Government is allowing reasonable access to mainstream religions, are they, in effect, taking sides by not allowing reasonable access to non-traditional religions?