Catching Up

So much of my (and the worlds) attention has been on the elections and the post-election fall-out that sometimes we miss a few stories.

For instance, the Supreme Court is going to being deciding the legality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Specifically the judges will decide whether the section on prisoners’ rights is constitutional.

” The case [Cutter v. Wilkinson] involves some Ohio prisoners who hold unconventional religious beliefs. They assert that state corrections rules denying them access to religious literature and the opportunity to conduct religious services violate RLUIPA and the Ohio Constitution. John Cutter is an avowed Satanist, while other plaintiffs include an ordained minister of a white supremacist group and a follower of Asatru, a polytheistic religion that originated with the Vikings.”The Christian Examiner

opponents of the law say that it gives “special rights” to prisoners and encourages prisoners to feign piety to gain privilege.

“They complain that they have been denied access to religious literature; access to religious medallions and religious ceremonial items; and access to group worship. They also claim they are treated less well than those who belong to mainstream religions.”Findlaw’s Writ

Some believe that if that section of the act is struck down if could have a chilling effect on religious freedom in our country.

“Consider the broader implications of the 6th Circuit ruling: If the establishment clause is interpreted to mean that government can’t accommodate our freedom to practice religion, then religious freedom doesn’t mean very much in this country.”Springfield News-Leader

If this part of the act is struck down it could have disastrous consequences for minority faiths in prison. Things would soon shift back to a Christian-only religious outreach or possibly no religious outreach at all. Considering the fact that most prisons are not places that concern themselves with reform of the inmate religion is often the only outlet that provides some sort of connection to the outside world and a community once they rejoin society.

Jason Pitzl-Waters