I received a letter about this.
I haven't had the time to research this fully, but I am going to put the full text of the letter in the extended entry, as a public service. I have not yet found enough information to form an opinion.
Subject: Prayer request
This morning the United States Supreme Court is holding oral arguments on
the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). As you probably know, its predecessor, the
Religious Freedoms Restoration Act ("RFRA") was held to be
unconstitutional as applied to the states. Congress moved to "fix" RFRA,
a bill that Bill Clinton signed, and came up with RLUIPA, which he also
Without RLUIPA, your church or synagogue may be zoned out of building
that family life center you desire or, if it is an historic building, be
told you cannot expand the building because of the unique architecture as
was done to the Texas Catholic church that invoked RFRA and lost in the
Supreme Court. (The priest there was actually winning souls to faith
and their membership swelled to the point of overflow. When they tried
to expand their facilities, they were told "No." The Supreme Court
upheld this action by the city. )
Without RLUIPA, if your uncle, the WWII vet, goes into the VA or other
hospital for long term care, he may be prevented from exercising his
religion freely while there a la the recent prohibition against prayer in
the "seniors centers" in west central Arkansas.
Without RLUIPA, we have a prison director, Larry Norris, under oath in a
deposition, has told me personally to my face that he can tell anyone
under his charge how they will worship, up to and including telling
Baptists not to use grape juice in the Lord's Supper if he so chooses and
denying kosher meals to Jewish inmates.
RLUIPA had two co-sponsors, Oren Hatch--a Mormon and arguably the most
conservative Republican senator in the institution--and Edward Kennedy, a
Catholic and extremely liberal. People of faith across the spectrum
supported this measure in Congress and now the United States Supreme
Court is sitting, once again, trying to decide if it will be a super
legislature or not.
I urge you to be much in prayer this morning that this important
protection of our rights not be removed.
David O. Bowden
Attorney at Law
1723 S. Broadway
Little Rock, AR 72206