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April 7, 2014

Does an imprisoned white supremacist have a right to an anti-Kosher diet?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local article from Illinois headlined "White Supremacist Hale Sues Bureau Of Prisons For Violating His Rights." Here are the basics:

It was nine years ago today that Matt Hale of East Peoria was sentenced to 40 years in prison – convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Now, without a lawyer, Hale is suing the federal Bureau of Prisons because he says his rights are being denied.

Matt Hale, a minister in the religion of Creativity, is suing because he says the federal prison system has been taking away his mail privileges.

“They just come in and announce to him that his mail is being taken away from him,” said Evelyn Hutcheson, Hale’s 75-year-old mother. Hutcheson is his staunchest defenders. She says her son is moral, never plotted against a judge – and she says his trial was dirty and tainted. “I would like to see him freed before I die. I really would. But I just know how dirty it is. I’m sorry. I know how dirty it actually is. And who am I? I’m just a little peon. I’m nothing.”

Besides wanting to get his mail regularly, Hale is suing the prison system to be served the diet he says his anti-Jewish religion requires: uncooked food like raw fruits, vegetables and nuts.

April 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

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Speaking strictly to the idea of his diet, I do not believe that he has a leg to stand on. BOP regs state that inmates must put in writing why an inmate needs a special meal. His statement must have come in some form of "I hate Jews." The regs also state that no religious activity will be approved that comes out of hate for another race, religion, etc. It is quite clear that this is the case. There is no religious tenet behind the request other than hatred of another faith.

It is also dead if the BOP does not recognize the Church of Creativity as a legitimate "faith."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 7, 2014 10:45:35 AM

The 'theology' also makes no sense because none of the laws of kosher apply to fruit, vegetables, or nuts.

Posted by: Z.Y.U. | Apr 7, 2014 11:18:23 AM

The main thing the "Church of Creativity" is creative about is conning the courts with this hokum (although it's going nowhere this time).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 7, 2014 11:54:45 AM

my first question would be "what the hell is an anti-kosher diet?"

so the answer would be NO!

unless he's got canteen money coming out his ass and can buy it himself.

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 7, 2014 2:11:57 PM

Given the problem of obesity in this country, my impression is that most Americans consider diets to be not kosher.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 7, 2014 2:39:10 PM

"hokum" as compared to what? This is religious doctrine. What is "hokum" there?

There is a sincerity prong here and the name is a tad damning, but if leading senators can be members of a religion whose founder allegedly found some holy gold plates in NY in the early 19th Century, "hokum" doesn't tell me much. Perhaps, he is to be "creative" using mainstream religions.

The "no religious activity will be approved that comes out of hate for another race, religion, etc." is another fine line. Readers of the "New Testament" would find a good amount of "hate" of the "religion" of many people, including pagans and certain Jews. How much "hate" is enough here? Many believe things largely as a result of being against something. If the belief still is "religious" in nature, what is the line there?

Perfectly honest religious practices include some food choices that are hard to supply, especially in a prison setting. Even if one or more people here aren't familiar with them or think them nonsense. And, people have religious beliefs for a range of pretty dubious reasons. Sort of shows the value of the general applicability test of Oregon v. Smith. Statutory law goes further though.

Posted by: Joe | Apr 7, 2014 3:10:26 PM

Joe --

I don't believe for one minute that you're falling for this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 7, 2014 5:18:29 PM

Joe,
Your relativity is pitieous, but consistent with the philosophy
of undiscerning equivocation.
What is your rationale for concluding that jailhouse neo-Nazism is a legitimate religious faith,
as are Judaism & Christianity?
Are you aware of the origin of this "religion" and how a criminal neo-Nazi demanding kosher food
is merely conducting a deliberate act of ridicule aimed exclusively at Jews?

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 7, 2014 9:04:48 PM

[demanding the opposite of Kosher food]

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 7, 2014 9:07:00 PM

damn all of us but joe seem to agree. the world is DONE!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 8, 2014 12:26:33 AM

@Adamakis,

I have a problem with your use of the word "legitimate" in "legitimate religious faith." There are people who argue Islam isn't a legitimate faith. Certainly plenty of people argue that Scientology isn't. In the Hobby Lobby case, there are people who argue the petitioner's belief that paying an insurance company money that could go to drugs that they think are an abortifacient isn't legitimate. Obviously, there are people who think all religion is illegitimate. Legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder.

If all you meant is "sincere religious faith," I would agree with you. I have some doubts as to his belief in the religious aspects of his claim. It isn't enough to sincerely believe something, they have to sincerely believe it is their religion. I don't think that's the case here, but the question of legitimacy should be saved for philosophy and theology, not politics and law.

Posted by: Erik M | Apr 8, 2014 9:07:54 AM

Bill, to the respect I don't "fall" for it, I could feel similar if the guy suddenly found Christ or something. And, certain Christians have (quite honestly) some pretty weird ideas imho. And, as I alluded to, some have pretty hateful thoughts. That's the issue with your use of "hokum."

Adamakis, it is not really my "relativity" -- it is the First Amendment's -- it doesn't play favorites. The one USSC ruling specifically about this issue recently (Cutter) in fact dealt with some hateful sorts and their religions were deemed covered too. I don't know the specifics of the guy's alleged religion but various hate groups have a strong religious competent -- the KKK, e.g., to my understanding considers itself Christian and its use of a cross as a hate symbol is well known. Again, a USSC case actually dealt with it (Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette).

Erik M. referenced as did I the sincerity prong, but as one justice noted during the Hobby Lobby case, judges have been wary about judging that sort of thing. And, this aside, many with quite "out there" beliefs are darn sincere, they can very well be quite hateful & often they "find religion" in stress laden times like illness or confinement. So, I again note my concern for line drawing. To the degree you find this "relativity" distasteful, you seem like others here imho to be not bothered at me specifically, but constitutional requirements.


Posted by: Joe | Apr 8, 2014 11:25:07 AM

Eric M.
Point well taken.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 8, 2014 4:13:52 PM

¿
Serve him pork from an animal that has been killed in a Kosher manner ?

Posted by: Docile Jim Brady - Columbus OH 43209 | Apr 8, 2014 7:34:11 PM

To be fair, my religion totally requires all my meals to be bacon.

Posted by: Erik M | Apr 8, 2014 9:34:30 PM

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