Federal Court Ruling Extends Equal Protection Rights To Atheists
Posted by doctore0 on November 4, 2014
A federal district court in Oregon has ruled in favor of an atheist inmate who filed suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons in April for rejecting his requests to form a humanist study group on grounds that humanism was not listed as a religious affiliation under existing prison classifications.
In a decision issued Thursday, Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty ruled that prison officials violated inmate Jason Holden’s constitutional rights under the First and Fifth Amendments, and moved to recognize secular humanism as a religion for “Establishment Clause purposes.”
The case, co-filed by the American Humanist Association, marks a victory for secular groups seeking access to the same legal rights afforded to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims — all of whom are permitted to organize under the current federal prison system.
“As humanists, we believe in the ability of mankind to transcend their differences and to reach some common ground and make the world a better place,” Holden, who is currently serving time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, explained in an Uptown Radio interview in May. “We simply want the same thing other religious groups are provided.”