RLUIPA and the Mosque-Building Controversy

The recent controversies surrounding the building of mosques in cities across America have their resolution in one simple acronym: RLUIPA.

September 6, 2010, 1:00 PM PDT

By Nate Berg


"The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, whose initials are commonly pronounced Ruh-LOO-pa, was approved unanimously by Congress in 2000. Its chief sponsor was Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah.

The law sets a high bar for any government action that would impose zoning or other restrictions on a religious institution. Any such action must serve a 'compelling government interest' while also being 'the least restrictive means' of furthering that interest, the law says."

Many land use law experts have argued that RLUIPA offers the legal guidance for how these sorts of controversies can be resolved. Despite the protections offered through the law, opponents of mosque projects remain vocal and powerful.

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