By Gary D. Robinson
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina prison system must recognize humanism as a faith group and allow its adherents behind bars to meet and study their beliefs, a federal judge has ruled in an order released Thursday.
The American Humanist Association and a North Carolina inmate serving a life sentence for murder sued state Department of Public Safety officials in 2015. They accused prison leaders of violating the religious establishment and equal protection clauses of the Constitution by repeatedly denying recognition the requests of the inmate, Kwame Jamal Teague.
In the order, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle wrote that prison officials failed to justify treating humanism differently from those religions that are recognized behind bars. Boyle also ordered the state to adjust its computer system so prisoners who declare themselves humanists can be registered under that group.
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