Thursday, October 08, 2015

Court Says White Supremacist Movement May Qualify As A "Religion"

In Hale v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, (D CO, Sept. 30, 2015), a Colorado federal district court held that the White supremacist Creativity Movement may qualify as a "religion" for purposes of the First Amendment and RFRA.  In a lawsuit brought by inmate Reverend Matt Hale, who for ten years was the “Pontifex Maximus,” or “greatest priest” of the Church of the Creator, the court said in part:
Mr. Hale alleges that “Creativity addresses all the ultimate questions of life, including the meaning of life and its purpose,” which, for Creators, is to halt the mixing of races and devote themselves to the salvation and survival of the white race. Creativity “teaches its adherents to build their minds, to eat salubriously, to create a society conducive to their mental and physical well-being, and to preserve a pure and natural environment,” and thus imposes duties on its members. Mr. Hale alleges that Creators celebrate certain holidays, perform ceremonies, repeat daily affirmations, follow a prophet, and direct members to proselytize, all of which are done with the idea that these practices allow a follower to achieve salvation. True, the Complaint does not identify any metaphysical components of Creativity, and it characterizes Creativity as having a single secular goal – the “achievement of white racial immortality.” But, however bigoted as Creativity’s beliefs may appear, the Complaint states facts which, taken as true, suggest that Creativity addresses the purpose for life and means of salvation, imposes duties on its members, and denotes certain holidays and religious ceremonies to be celebrated or performed.
In the lawsuit, Hale complains of various administrative restrictions on his ability to practice his religion while in prison.  The court allowed him to move forward only on two claims-- mail bans and refusals to provide a religious diet.