Protecting the Right to WorshipMelissa Rogers May/June 2001 On July 27, 2000, both the Senate and the House passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and President Clinton signed the measure into law on September 22. This law, often known as RLUIPA (pronounced ar-LOOP-uh), provides protection for a right that is foundational in our country: the right to worship. As its name indicates, RLUIPA addresses two areas that currently are the sources of the most numerous and pervasive problems under the free exercise clause of the Constitution.
In a series of Congressional hearings beginning in 1997, it became clear that local zoning authorities often use their power in ways that seriously burden and sometimes discriminate against religious bodies. In Los Angeles, for example, a city council unanimously rejected an Orthodox Jewish congregation