Appeals Court Rejects Inmate's Requests in Religious Practice Dispute
November 08, 2012
In a dispute over religious practices, a federal appeals court in Richmond today upheld a ruling that has prevented a state prisoner from creating an "outdoor worship circle" featuring one thousand pounds of small stones.
The inmate, Johan Krieger, who is serving time in a state facility in North Carolina, argued that prison officials have unfairly denied his requests for "sacred items" and a worship circle outside, violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
A federal trial judge concluded that Krieger failed to show how the practice of his religion, which is called Asatru, was harmed by the lack of a worship circle outdoors. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision.
The appeals court described Asatru as a polytheistic religion with origins in Northern Europe. The court said "Asatru is a decentralized religion, which does not have a spiritual leader or a governing religious authority."