Posted by: Patricia Salkin | July 22, 2016

USDOJ Releases Report on RLUIPA Enforcement – Number of Investigations of Discrimination is on the Rise

From DOJ’s Religious Freedom in Focus:

On July 22, at the same White House event at which the Combating Religious Discrimination Today final report was released, the Civil Rights Division released a report focusing on its enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The RLUIPA report is an update of the Civil Rights Division’s 10th Anniversary RLUIPA report from 2010.  The update details the Justice Department’s RLUIPA enforcement from September 2010 to the present.

Among the findings of the report:

  • 55% of Justice Department RLUIPA land-use investigations in the current period have involved communities of various minority faiths including Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists; the other 45% of investigations involved Christian congregations, of which more than half involved predominantly African American, Latino, and Asian-American churches.
  • The number of RLUIPA land-use cases handled by the Justice Department is growing.  Since September 2010, the Justice Department opened 45 RLUIPA investigations, compared to a total of 51 from 2000 to 2010, representing a 47% increase in investigations per year.
  • The number of RLUIPA land-use investigations involving Muslims rose from 14% of the Justice Department’s investigations from 2000 to 2010 to 38% in September 2010 to the present.
  • While 84% of non-Muslim RLUIPA land-use matters resolve with favorable outcomes for the religious institution at the investigation stage, only 20% of Muslim RLUIPA land-use matters resolve with favorable outcomes at the investigation stage.
  • 49% of the investigations handled by Justice Department in the current period involved disparate treatment between religious assemblies and nonreligious assemblies, such as clubs, community centers, and assembly halls.
  • In defense of the religious liberty rights of persons in institutions, since September 2010 the Justice Department has conducted six formal investigations under RLUIPA’s institutionalized persons section, filed three lawsuits, and filed 17 amicus briefs and statements of interest.

The RLUIPA report update complements the findings in the RLUIPA section of the Combating Religious Discrimination Today final report.  That report, based on the observations and recommendations of diverse religious and civil rights leaders, indicated that mosque land-use cases were a large and growing problem, that municipal officials were not treating religious assemblies on equal terms with nonreligious assemblies as required by RLUIPA, and recommends that the federal government do more to educate religious communities and local officials about the requirements of RLUIPA.

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