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ACLU Using Religious Freedom Act It Opposed to Defend Muslim Prisoner

Melody Wood told PJM the ACLU’s use of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act on behalf of a Muslim jail prisoner who doesn’t want to eat pork is a classic case of the civil rights organization’s hypocrisy.

“I would say the ACLU has the right to use RFRA to defend the religious beliefs of this American,” said Wood, a research assistant at the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation. “But it should also recognize that RFRA should protect all religious beliefs, including beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality.”

The ACLU has rallied to the side of Gannon Thomas, a practicing Muslim at the Boone County Jail in Indiana.

Thomas knows the drill. He has been in the Boone County Jail several times since 2010. He’s doing time now on a felony burglary charge.

In its complaint filed on behalf of Thomas, the ACLU argued the inmate is being fed pork even though he is required by his religion to consume only halal food, which adheres to Islamic law.

The ACLU deemed that to be a violation of Thomas’ rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Wood pointed out in March 2016 that although the ACLU was a ferocious opponent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed in 2015, it has often used similar federal and state legislation to fight for the rights of members of the Sikh, Muslim and even Quaker religions.

However, Wood wrote with co-author Tory McClintock, a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation, that was the ACLU of the past.

“Unlike the ACLU of the past, the ACLU of the present believes that only certain religious beliefs are worthy of protection and that others should be suppressed,” Wood and McClintock wrote on the Heritage Foundation commentary site the Daily Signal.

“Where the ACLU once defended sincerely held religious beliefs that were unpopular, it now sacrifices the religious liberty rights of millions of good-faith Americans before the altar of sexual politics,” Wood and McClintock concluded.

The ACLU of Indiana declined a PJM request for comment.

However, Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote there is nothing hypocritical about the organization’s stance toward RFRA legislation and the way it has been used in Indiana and other states.