Theodish Thoughts

Musings on Theodism, religion, mythology, history, and contemporary Heathenry

Category: Odinism

Odinist prisoner news: Freeman v. Budnick et al

Out of Arkansas comes the case of Freeman v. Budnick et al, wherein the plaintiff alleged that “while in punitive isolation he was denied various items needed to practice his religion such as a Thor’s hammer, a set of runes and rune cloth, an Odinist text, an altar and altar cloth and a wooden statue.” (Details from Religion Clause, as I was unable to find court documents detailing the case that aren’t behind a paywall.)

The case was dismissed without prejudice.

Odinist Prisoner News: Planker v. Christie

From New Jersey comes Planker v. Christie, that was dismissed without prejudice on January 20, 2015. Amongst (many, many) other complaints, the plaintiff alleged that his rights as an “Organic Odian” (which, I must admit, is something I’ve never heard of before) were violated. Specifically, he was denied materials such as a Thor’s Hammer, runes, candles, sea salt, and mushrooms (?), and was denied access to Odinist services due to scheduling issues.

But most disturbing are the alleged comments of the (Muslim) prison chaplain to the effect that the plaintiff should convert to Islam if he wanted full access to his religious rights.

Interestingly, the opinion cites DeHart v. Horn in stating that:

“[t]he mere assertion of a religious belief does not automatically trigger First Amendment protections, however. To the contrary, only those beliefs which are both sincerely held and religious in nature are entitled to constitutional protection.”

On the same day that opinion was published, the US Supreme Court published Holt v. Hobbs, which in many ways turned the court’s interpretation of RLUIPA (the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) on its head. As Howard Friedman of the award-winning Religion Clause blog put it:

“Those who follow Religion Clause’s weekly summary of prisoner free exercise cases know that inmates professing a wide variety of religious beliefs seek religious accommodations relating to grooming, clothing, possession of religious items, worship space, congregate religious services, religious dietary restrictions, and more.  The Supreme Court has now reaffirmed the conclusion of most courts that an inmate may invoke RLUIPA to require accommodation of a totally idiosyncratic belief– so long as it is sincerely held. Religious visions shared by no one else apparently still qualify.”

That could indeed have an implication for Planker v. Christie, not to mention many other religious-based lawsuits that rely on RLUIPA as their basis.

Odinist Prisoner News: Smith v. Governor for the State of Alabama

Out of Alabama (obviously) comes a ruling in the case of Smith v. Governor for the State of Alabama. The plaintiff, Tony Lee Smith, was apparently denied permission for a dedicated Odinist worship space (he could use the regular open worship space) and a fire pit (he could use a small candle), and refused to place him in a faith-based “honor dorm”. The prison stated concerns about Odinism’s racist connections. He further claimed that artwork was impounded and destroyed, and that he was retaliated against because he practiced a non-Christian religion.

After wending its way through a couple of lower courts, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals finally denied his appeal, essentially stating that he had no expectation of privacy in his cell, and that he was not treated in a discriminatory fashion. Earlier dismissal of the charges is upheld.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén