The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) superseded the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), which the Supreme Court held unconstitutional in its application to states in 1997. A two-pronged law, RLUIPA protects prisoners from unjust impositions to their freedom of worship and also ensures religious institutions may use their property for legitimate worship purposes without burdensome zoning law restrictions. This paper focuses specifically on the latter prong and analyzes RLUIPA in light of the growing Islamophobia in America during the previous twenty-four months. For example, the United States Department of Justice reports “of the eighteen RLUIPA matters involving possible discrimination against Muslims that the Department has monitored since September 11, 2001, eight have been opened since May of 2010.” Additionally, this paper repudiates the assertion that RLUIPA is an unconstitutional exercise of Congressional power, and argues instead RLUIPA ensures effective and legal protection from religious discrimination for all Americans. “In reviewing the history of the times through which we have passed, no portion of it gives greater satisfaction, on reflection, than that which presents the efforts of the friends of religious freedom, and the success with which they are crowned.”

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Winter 2013