British scholar Denis MacEoin points me to this article, which appeared yesterday in USA Today:
Lawyers for American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh asked a federal judge Wednesday to find the Federal Bureau of Prisons in contempt for not allowing Muslim inmates in a high-security Indiana prison unit to pray together five times a day, as required by their faith… The prisons agency has said inmates of all religions housed in the Terre Haute federal prison’s Communications Management Unit have been allowed to pray together three times daily after a federal judge ruled in Lindh’s favor in a lawsuit seeking the prayer time. The ACLU of Indiana argues that isn’t what Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson’s Jan. 11 ruling required. Magnus-Stinson said Lindh, 32, sincerely believes Islam mandates Muslims pray together five times a day and federal law requires the prison to accommodate his beliefs.
This is nonsense: There is no requirement in Islam that Muslims pray communally five times a day, or three times a day. Communal prayers are on Friday at noon so, if the ACLU was truly concerned about religious rights rather than shilling for terrorists, it would seek to ensure that the young murderer Mr. Lindh would be able to join such prayers once each week.
As to the ACLU’s claim that Mr. Lindh’s sincere belief is more important than theology, perhaps the ACLU can advocate for my daughter’s right to have her own unicorn, because it is her sincere belief that unicorns are real.
It is not only ridiculous to try to bestow religious rights upon prisoners not found in their declared religion, but it is also strange that the ACLU in its zeal for advocacy would preference the most radical interpretations of religion over the reality of that religion. Alas, while the ACLU has a valuable role to play, it seems that this is one instance when it has chosen to prioritize politics above its own declared mission.