Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) provides increased protection for religious freedom in the prison and land-use arenas.

Regarding land use, RLUIPA prohibits both state and federal governments from imposing or implementing land-use regulations that impose “a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution,” unless the government meets very strict burdens. The land-use arm of RLUIPA usually invoked when zoning laws restrict the building of religious buildings, or restrict the use of existing buildings for religious purposes. (For example, if a city zoning code did not allow buildings within the city center to be used for religious purposes, but did allow buildings to be used for commercial purposes, this code may well be illegal under RLUIPA.)

Regarding prisons, RLUIPA acts to protect prisoners’ rights to practice their religions. (RLUIPA applies not only to prisons, but to a whole host of “institutions,” such as jails and holding cells.) Governments cannot impose a substantial burden on a person’s religious exercise unless the impositions meet very strict burdens. This means prisoners, who so often in the past have been completely denied the right to exercise their religion and freely worship their God, are now protected and must be afforded freedom of worship.

Have an RLUIPA Issue? Contact Brown Law.

If you feel a government entity is restricting your ability to use land for or build buildings for religious purposes, or if you know a prisoner whose religious freedom is being denied, call 801.685.9999 or 800.299.1016. Brown Law will work to protect your religious freedom from government overreach.