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President Clinton Signs Law Protecting Religious Land Use Rights.

President Bill Clinton has signed legislation giving religious groups and prisoners increased legal protections for religious free exercise.

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is designed to give religious groups more flexibility in dealing with zoning laws. It also requires prison officials to make reasonable accommodations for inmates' religious practices.

A broad coalition of religious and public policy groups from across the political spectrum, including Americans United, supported the legislation. On zoning issues, the new law requires governments to show that their land-use laws are the least restrictive measures possible and that they serve a compelling interest before being applied to religious groups.

"The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act will provide protection for one of our country's greatest liberties -- the exercise of religion -- while carefully preserving the civil rights of all Americans," Clinton said in a statement prior to signing the bill Sept. 22. "Religious liberty is a constitutional value of the highest order, and the Framers of the Constitution included protection for the free exercise of religion in the very first amendment. This act recognizes the importance the free exercise of religion plays in our democratic society."
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
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