Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Jail agrees to stop censoring the Bible

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 17, 2010

Under pressure from civil rights organizations, Rappahannock Regional Jail officials stated they would stop censoring religious material in letters to inmates. The change in policy comes after The Becket Fund and other civil rights organizations protested the censorship of correspondence from a Christian mother to her son. One 3- page letter she sent was censored down to nothing but the salutation, first paragraph, and “Love, Mom.”

“The Bible isn’t pornography and shouldn’t be treated like it,” said Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which signed the letter. “Wouldn’t it be great if every level of government – local, state, and federal – stopped acting as if the Bible and other religious books are dangerous contraband and instead acknowledged faith’s role in our society?”

Prison authorities can legitimately censor writings that affect prison security, but the courts have ruled that inmates must be given access to religious materials. The letter that prompted today’s change stated that officials at Rappahannock were violating the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws, in particular the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) of 2000. Section 3 of the Act provides that no government may arbitrarily prohibit a prisoner from engaging in religious worship or communication.

“Every prison official in the country should make themselves familiar with the First Amendment and the prisoner religious freedoms granted under RLUIPA,” added Rassbach.

Based in Washington, D.C., The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a nonpartisan, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

Becket Fund attorneys are the nation’s leading experts on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which codifies constitutional principles derived from the First and Fourteenth Amendments and enjoys broad bipartisan support. In addition to conducting extensive litigation under the Act, they have written two law review articles on it, and they maintain a website dedicated to the Act,

Courtesy of


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