ADL Applauds Enactment of Religious Freedom Bill
Washington, D.C., September 22, 2000 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
today welcomed the enactment of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), a measure designed to ensure that government not
interfere with an individual’s freedom to practice his/her religion unless the
highest governmental interest is at stake. President Clinton signed the measure
today at a White House ceremony, surrounded by national civil rights and
religious leaders, including ADL National Commissioner Milton "Tony"
Schneider of Philadelphia.
Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL
National Director, issued the following statement:
We welcome the enactment of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA), an important response to recent Supreme Court decisions
that have significantly restricted the legal protections governing the right
of Americans to practice their religion freely. The League has been pleased to
be part of the leadership of an unusually broad coalition of religious and
civil liberties organizations in support of this measure.
This new law covers religious practice in two critical areas that have
sparked a large number of complaints. First, the statute adds protection for
houses of worship from undue land use restrictions. Congressional hearings on
the measure revealed that in a disturbingly large number of communities, land
use regulation makes it difficult or impossible to build, buy, or rent space
for new synagogues and other house of worship, whether large or small.
Second, RLUIPA provides expanded protection for the religious observances
of prisoners and other institutionalized persons -- without compromising
appropriate institutional discipline and security concerns. Among the examples
of unfair restrictions on the religious observances of prisoners presented at
congressional hearings were cases in which prison officials not only refused
to purchase Passover matzo, but refused to accept even donated matzo from a
President Clinton has made initiatives to protect religious freedom - in
schools and in the federal workplace -- one of the hallmarks of his
administration. This legislation is another important step forward in
protecting the fundamental right of all Americans to worship free from
unnecessary government interference.