Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act Law RLUIPA Law and Legal Definition

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) was passed by Congress on July 27, 2000 and signed into law by President Clinton on September 22, 2000. It provides federal remedies to protect the freedom of religious assemblies and institutions to use their property to fulfill their missions. It also protects the religious rights of institutionalized persons. The Act is designed to prevent zoning and historic landmark laws from substantially interfering with the religious free exercise of religious assemblies and institutions. The Act also protects the religious rights of prisoners and other persons in government custody.

In enacting the RLUIPA, lawwmakers sought to address concerns over discriminatory practices seeking to preserve the religious status quo in a community by excluding newer religious groups, and by preventing established churches and congregations from developing new ministries and services. Religious organizations have also been excluded by localities because they are tax exempt and reduce municipal tax revenues.

To make a claim under RLUIPA, the claimant must show that the land use regulation places a substantial burden on its religious exercise. To rebut a claimant's claim, the government must show either that the regulation is narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest or that the claim does not fall under the jurisdictional scope of the Act.