By Heather Clark 

RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge appointed to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan has ruled that the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the Lanesboro Correctional Institution were in error in declining to recognize an inmate’s religion as humanism, and prohibiting him from forming a humanist study group.

“[D]efendants have not demonstrated a secular purpose for denying humanism recognition as a religious group or for the decision to prohibit humanist inmates from organizing group meetings,” wrote U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle on Thursday.

“Defendants’ refusal to recognize humanism as a faith group and to accommodate humanist meetings violates the Establishment and Equal Protection Clauses,” he said.

 As previously reported, the American Humanist Association (AHA) had filed suit last July on behalf of Kwame Teague, who has been behind bars since 1996 and wishes to meet with other humanists who share his views. His records indicate that he is Islamic, but he has requested that officials change his religious affiliation to note that he is rather a secular humanist.
However, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety does not include humanism or atheism in its list of recognized religions, as it does not view adherents as being a part of a religious group.

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