Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Court Says Humanism Is Not A Religion

In Espinosa v. Stogner, (D NV, Dec. 4, 2017), a Nevada federal district court-- in a suit brought by a prisoner-- held that Humanism does not qualify as a "religion" for purposes of the Free Exercise or Establishment Clause.  The court reasoned in part:
The Court has no basis to doubt Plaintiff’s sincerity as to his professed beliefs and of course has no opinion as to the value of those beliefs, but the allegations in the FAC confirm that despite the title Plaintiff gives his belief system (“Religious Humanism”), it is not a religion for the purposes of the religion clauses. See Peloza v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 37 F.3d 517, 521 (9th Cir. 1994) ... (“[R]eligion is the ‘belief in and reverence for a supernatural power accepted as the creator and governor of the universe.’”).... Alvarado v. City of San Jose, 94 F.3d 1223, 1229 (9th Cir. 1996) ... (“We are hard put to imagine a more unworkable definition of religion ... for purposes of the Establishment Clause or Free Exercise than that which is offered here. Few governmental activities could escape censure under a constitutional definition of ‘religion’ which includes any symbol or belief to which an individual ascribes ‘serious or almost serious’ spiritual significance. ‘If anything can be religion, then anything the government does can be construed as favoring one religion over another, and . . . the government is paralyzed. . . .’ While the First Amendment must be held to protect unfamiliar and idiosyncratic as well as commonly recognized religions, it loses its sense and thus its ability to protect when carried to the extreme proposed by the plaintiffs.”).