following list includes brief descriptions of some religious groups and other
terms used in the survey report that may be unfamiliar to readers. Descriptions
have been adapted from the website of the American Correctional Chaplains
Association, Associated Press Stylebook, ReligionFacts.com, the Religion
Newswriters Association’s Religion Stylebook and ReligiousTolerance.org.
Correctional Chaplains Association
professional association founded in 1885, the ACCA’s goals include providing a network for sharing information
among chaplains, formulating standards for chaplaincy and religious programs,
and communicating the religious and spiritual aspects of corrections to the
An Icelandic term for “faith in the gods,” Asatru is
a modern attempt to recreate the polytheistic, pre-Christian faith of the
Nordic/Germanic people. Like Odinism, it is often associated in prisons with
Aryanism and other white supremacist theories.
Members of this group, also known as Black Hebrew Israelites and Black Hebrews, believe themselves to be descendants of the ancient Israelites, although their
theology is historically rooted in a Christian understanding of the Old
Testament. There are several denominations
within this umbrella group, including the Church of God and Saints of Christ, Church
of the Living God and African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem.
A movement that asserts that white Europeans or
Caucasians are God’s chosen people. Theologically, it holds to a belief known
as “Anglo-Israelism” – that the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic and
associated cultures are the true descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel.
Science Temple of America
American offshoot of Islam founded by Noble Drew Ali in 1913, Moorish Science draws
on elements of Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism and
is often distinguished from traditional Islam.
founded by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930 based on principles of Islam and black
pride. It was led for more than 40 years by his disciple Elijah Muhammad, who
taught that black Americans were descended from the ancient tribe of Shabazz. Its
current leader is Louis Farrakhan.
Asatru, Odinism is an attempt to recreate the indigenous, pre-Christian
religion of Northern Europe. It is named for Odin, a major god in Norse
mythology, also known as Wotan or Woden. The modern practice of Odinism is
often associated in prisons with white supremacist theories.
and earth-based religions
spiritual movements seek to revive reverence for nature and
to emulate the polytheistic beliefs and rituals of pre-Christian religions in Europe
(particularly Norse and Celtic traditions) or the Middle East (particularly
ancient Egypt). Such religions include Asatru, Druidism, Odinism, Thelema and Wicca.
They are sometimes called neo-pagan religions.
These correctional employees often are ordained clergy
but include lay people with religious and pastoral training. Although they
usually represent a particular denomination or religious tradition, they are
charged with helping to meet the religious and spiritual needs of inmates of
all faiths. Their duties may include providing pastoral care to inmates,
inmates’ families and prison staff as well as organizing religious programs for
inmates, training and supervising volunteers, advising correctional officials
on religion-related policies and various administrative functions.
Rastafari movement is a “messianic religio-political movement” that began in
the Jamaican slums in the 1920s and ’30s. The movement has no formal
organization, but some common threads include belief in Ethiopian Emperor Haile
Selassie I as a divinity, the influence of Jamaican culture and pride in African heritage.
prison-based programs are intended to help inmates become law abiding citizens
by providing services such as substance abuse treatment, vocational training,
education, counseling, victim-offender mediation, faith-based support groups and
prison contemplative programs (such as meditation and yoga).
former inmate’s relapse into criminal or delinquent behavior, recidivism is
measured by the rate at which former inmates return to prison.
inmate’s transition from prison back to the community is known as re-entry.
Many prisons offer programs to aid inmates in this transition. The programs
typically begin with pre-release services such as counseling, mentoring, parenting
advice and religious programs, but they may also include services delivered
after release from prison through parole offices, community organizations and transition
term refers to efforts to ensure the constitutional rights of inmates to
practice their religion while in prison. Accommodations may include making
available religious services, leaders, diets, books and other resources, as
well as allowing for observance of religious holidays and customs.
in prison, accommodations are often made for inmates to receive special meals
that conform to the laws and regulations of different faith traditions, such as
kosher diets for Jewish inmates, halal diets for Muslim inmates, and vegetarian
or vegan diets for Seventh-day Adventists.
states employ religious service coordinators in addition to, or instead of,
chaplains. They perform many of the same functions, including organizing
religious programs and supervising religious volunteers. Unlike chaplains,
however, religious service coordinators typically do not provide pastoral
counseling or lead worship services themselves.
rights of prisoners
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to free
exercise of religion. Congress has passed two laws to help ensure that inmates’
religious rights are reasonably protected without threatening the security of
the prison: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA). (For
more on RFRA and RLUIPA, see the Pew Forum’s 2007 legal report, “A Delicate
Balance: The Free Exercise Clause and the Supreme Court.”)
Salafism is a puritanical movement in Islam that emphasizes a
conservative and literalist interpretation of scriptural sources. Literally
followers of the salaf as-salih, or “pious
predecessors,” Salafis emphasize exclusive reliance on the teachings of the
early Muslims closest to the Prophet Muhammad.
Known by several other names, includingLukumi,Santeria began as a combination of Catholic traditions
and traditional West African folk rituals practiced in the Caribbean.
The term Satanism has many possible meanings. However, some
experts distinguish between two main types of modern Satanists: theistic
Satanists, who worship the devil as a deity, and atheistic Satanists, who do
not worship or even believe in the Christian notion of the devil but rather
embrace Satan as a symbol of individualism, self-indulgence and vengeance (or
“eye-for-an-eye” morality). The best-known atheistic Satanist organization is
the Church of Satan, founded by the musician and writer Anton LaVey in 1966.
There are many forms of Wicca, but they generally involve the
worship of a divine feminine, or goddess, and a reverence for nature and its
cycles, marked by seasonal festivals called Sabbats. Wicca is traditionally
believed to be based on the symbols, celebrations, beliefs and deities of
ancient Celtic peoples. Many Wiccans practice witchcraft, but they typically do
not engage in devil worship or Satanism.
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