Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Thursday, March 26, 2015
Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Pacifica Senior Living - Calaroga Terrace

Home : News : Nation and World
Religious rights concerns being raised over beards and turbans
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — It might appear as though the Supreme Court, the departments of Defense and Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are paying attention to the current popularity of beards.

Recent actions by the four federal entities put a fuzzy face on some of the ongoing conflicts over religious freedom within the United States. The beards in question are worn as a sign of religious faith, however, not fashion.

A cluster of federal actions on beards and other outward expressions of faith illustrates the wide range of issues that fall under the heading of religious rights at a time when there is a lot of attention to faith-based litigation over requirements in the Affordable Care Act for certain types of benefits.

Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, said cases over religious attire and grooming come out of the same corner of the legal landscape as do faith-based challenges to the ACA's contraceptive coverage requirement.

Their common ground lies in how the First Amendment's provision for free exercise of religion is accommodated in a secular society, Haynes said. But they also are ripple effects of a 1990 Supreme Court ruling, Employment Division v. Smith, and the laws passed by Congress to try to reverse its effects, said Haynes.

The Supreme Court agreed March 3 to hear the appeal of an Arkansas prison inmate who is arguing that the state's correctional system policy that bans beards of any length -- with rare exceptions for inmates with skin disorders -- violates a 2000 law intended to bolster religious rights after the Smith ruling.

In Smith, the court said a Native American tribe in Oregon had no right to use the illegal drug peyote in a religious ceremony. The court said judges only had to determine that a law applicable to all citizens reasonably advances a legitimate government policy. Previously, the standard for review of a religious claim for exemption from a law required finding a "compelling' interest in restricting religious freedom, a broader legal standard.

Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, which was later overturned except as it applies to federal agencies, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA.

RFRA is at the core of lawsuits against the federal government, challenging requirements for employers to include coverage for contraceptives in employee health insurance policies. Two such cases will be heard by the Supreme Court March 25, brought by for-profit companies whose owners say the requirements violate their religious beliefs.

In the prison case, in a handwritten appeal to the court, Gregory Holt (also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad) argued that the no-beard policy violates RLUIPA's provisions that apply to inmates, which require prison officials to prove that policies that impose a burden on religious practices serve a compelling prison management interest and are the least restrictive approach to achieving that interest.

The state argues that the grooming policy is necessary for hygiene and safety reasons, preventing inmates from hiding contraband in their beards and making identification easier. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for domestic violence and burglary, is asking to be allowed to wear a half-inch beard in keeping with his Muslim faith.

Holt v. Hobbs will be heard in the court's term beginning in October.

That announcement came on the heels of the release in February of revised Department of Defense instructions about how to make accommodations in the military services for religiously based variations from uniforms and grooming requirements -- such as Muslims' beards or Sikhs' uncut hair worn under a turban.

The EEOC March 6 also issued guidelines and a fact sheet on religious garb and grooming in the workplace. They included advice for employers and employees and examples of the situations covered by the guidelines, including religious reasons for grooming or clothing practices.

And in Pennsylvania, the Justice Department sued the Philadelphia public school district March 5 over its demand that a Muslim security officer trim his beard.

The suit accuses the school district of religious discrimination after a grooming policy adopted in 2010 mandated a maximum beard length of a quarter of an inch for police and security guards. Siddiq Abu-Bakr has worn an untrimmed beard for the 27 years he has worked in the district "without evidence that the maintenance of an uncut beard has interfered with his job performance," said a statement from the Justice Department about the lawsuit.

Abu-Bakr has filed his own charge of religious discrimination with the EEOC.

Haynes said the legal landscape for religious-rights protection is "so convoluted these days," with some cases drawing on RFRA, others on state versions of RFRA passed after the court limited its application to the federal government, and still others under RLUIPA.

Requests for religious accommodations for land use or in prisons that are pursued under RLUIPA generally have fared pretty well in courts, Haynes observed. But "in other settings, it's been more difficult," hence the EEOC and Defense Department guidelines.

Bills known as the Workplace Religious Freedom Act have been introduced in Congress regularly since 1994, with different iterations reworked to accommodate objections raised by labor and business interests, among other tweaks, Haynes said.

Such a bill would strengthen the position of people seeking accommodations for their religious practices, Haynes said. Without it, "it has been easy to get around" the principle of accommodating employees, he added.

That the Supreme Court would take a case like Holt's -- handwritten appeals, not to mention those filed by non-lawyers on their own are accepted rarely, Haynes said. "It illustrates that there are some justices on the court who are really concerned about this area of accommodation."

Article Comment Submissions
Submit your comments, please. 
Comments are reviewed before being posted to the site. Comments must use respectful language and address the story. Comments are not posted immediately to the site. The site editor may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours. Comments may also be considered to appear as letters in our print edition, unless the writer specifices no.
Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2015 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved