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Inmate Sues When Religious Requests Not Met, Sheriff Tells a Different Story

An inmate in an Indiana prison says that the sheriff is denying him food that meets Islamic dietary laws. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on his behalf against the Sheriff's Office.

According to the ACLU, Boone County Jail is violating the First Amendment rights of Gannon Thomas by not serving him halal food. The lawsuit says the inmate was served pork, which Muslims are forbidden to eat. Gannon also claims the meals he's been brought have not been slaughtered according to Islamic laws.

Gov. Mike Pence, who is also currently the Republican candidate for Vice President, signed the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act last year. According to this law, government entities can't 'substantially burden' a person trying to practice his religious faith. The law was controversial because it was initiated to protect Christians from having to serve the LGBT community. This Boone County Sheriff's office, according to Gannon's suit, is violating this law.

According to Sheriff Mike Nielsen, he wasn't even aware there was a problem until after a lawsuit had been filed. "The fact that Inmate Gannon is alleging that we have discriminated against him by not serving him a ‘religious diet made of Halal food – food that adheres to Islamic Law’ because he is a practicing Muslim is not accurate in my opinion," said the Sheriff in a statement. "I was not even aware that there was an issue that one of our inmates had, about the type of food he was receiving because of his religious practices. I am extremely disappointed that Inmate Gannon and Mr. Faulk would not have reached out to me personally to resolve this alleged issue before filing a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages against me as the Sheriff of Boone County."

Nielsen vows that inmates are not and shall not be discriminated against, but can't comment any further on the matter due to pending litigation.

Source: Fox59
Photo: ABC7 Chicago, WISHTV

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