Friday, December 04, 2009

Court Says White Supremacist Movement Is Not A "Religion"

In Conner v. Tilton, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111892 (ND CA, Dec. 2, 2009), in a decision unusually detailed in its analysis for a case brought by a prisoner pro se, a California federal district court held that the White supremacist Creativity Movement is not a "religion" for purposes of the First Amendment or RLUIPA. In the case, an inmate sought the right to practice various aspects of his purported religion in Pelican Bay State Prison. In deciding the case, the court relied on the definition of "religion" articulated by the 3rd Circuit in Africa v. Pennsylvania:
First, a religion addresses fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters. Second, a religion is comprehensive in nature; it consists of a belief-system as opposed to an isolated teaching. Third, a religion often can be recognized by the presence of certain formal and external signs.
Applying that to Creativity, the court found that Creativity does not deal with fundamental and ultimate questions. Rather, its focus is on "a pragmatic philosophy that Creators must act to ensure the survival and promote the dominance of certain members of society." It is not comprehensive. "[T]he essence of Creativity is confined to 'one question or one moral teaching' which, again, can be summed up by Creativity's Golden Rule: 'What is good for the White Race is the highest virtue; what is bad for the White Race is the ultimate sin.'" Finally, "while plaintiff has presented evidence that shows Creativity has formal and external characteristics that might be considered similar to those associated with more traditional religions, their sole purpose is to support what the Court already has found to be a secular belief system."