Win for Religious Rights of Prisoners

By Kurtis Monschke, P.P. CIS

After 30 years of diligently fighting the Federal Bureau of Prisons for religious recognition of Christian Identity and accommodation, we have finally made some progress. 

As most of you know, recognition and accommodation has been challenged in courts of many different states and nearly all Federal circuits, many lost but many won as well, famous cases being Cutter v. Wilkenson and Gerhardt V. Lazaroff.  Part of the problem has been that though Cutter was a victory, the “Religious Land Use of Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA) applies to Fed. Funding that state prisons receive.  Not Federal Prisons.  Strange, huh?

That aside.  Case law has been in our favor.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons Program Statement has been in our favor.  The Code of Federal Regulations has been in our favor.  Yet they have made our belief system, our faith, verboten.  Anyone who has pursued this has heard the reasons why:  Christian Identity is racist.  Dept. of Homeland Security and the MIAC (Missouri Information and Analysis Center)  report says it is a domestic terrorist organization or has ties to domestic terrorism, etc., etc.  Well, Christian Identity IS indeed a racist belief system, and as they say “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”  In this sense we identify with the Patriots of the American Revolution: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” [or resistance to tyranny].  I believe it was Patrick Henry who said, “I know not which course in life you may  take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death”.  And we have the prophet in Joshua 24:15 saying essentially the same thing, “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.  And of course we have Acts 5:29, “It is better to obey God rather than men”.

CI recognition and accommodation has had some success in state prison systems such as Texas.  Pastor Mark Downey has been instrumental in the success of Colorado D.O.C. and has been that state’s consultant.  He has also helped and is helping in the Ohio D.O.C.  These successes bring us joy, but we know many more of our brothers and sisters live under cruel oppression and restrictions and the resulting lack of fellowship is disheartening.  Victor Hugo said, “Adversity makes men, prosperity makes monsters.”  Act 14:22 tells us, “stand by the faith….it is necessary to endure many sufferings in order to enter the Kingdom of God”.  We are also told to count it all joy, referring to such tribulation.

A major hurdle that we have had to overcome in the equity question of the New or Unfamiliar Religious components questionnaire, question 10.  This question has to do with discrimination based on race, color, etc, etc.  Now we see many racial religious in the Federal system, Nation of Islam, Moorish Science Temple, Five Percent Nation of Islam, for the blacks and Asatru or Odinism for the whites.  But if you do a freedom of information Act request you will see that they answered NO on the question.  But every time CI adherents file for recognition we answer yes, because Christianity is a religion of Discrimination, from Genesis to Revelation God discriminates and tells us to discriminate. 

I have been fighting for accommodation myself for about nine years in Washington State D.O.C., Atwater USP, Allenwood USP, Big Sandy USP, Hazelton USP, and I have always been denied.  I know several  other CI adherents that have been fighting longer than I, and they have been denied.

At long last with the help of Pastor Mark Downey of Kinsman Redeemer Ministries, I was approved for recognition and accommodation on March 20, 2012 at FCI Talladega, though I am actually in the high security S. M. U. (Special Management Unit) program. 

Following is the final disposition to my request;

"This is in response to your request for New or Unfamiliar Religious component in which you request religious Holy Days, religious Dietary Standards, and religious Occasional Observances under the religious group of Christian Identity.

A review of New or Unfamiliar Religious Component for the religious group Christian Identity revealed that the Religious Issue Committee recommends accommodation as an individual practitioner.  This allows you, individual practitioner accessibility to religious literature as guided by Program Statement 5266.11.  You may make requests as an individual practitioner and may include Holy Day observances and dietary requests.”  James M. Bowen, Chaplain; March 20, 2012.

At this stage what this means is, we no longer have to sign up under Seventh Day Adventist or any other religion in order to follow the scriptural Food Laws, we can get one religious feast meal per year, though if we are on “common fare” (so-called “kosher” meals) we may be required to pay for them from a company like “Shelf Stable Meals” which does have a good lamb selection.  We can also get days off for the Sabbath.  Additionally I was able to get the chaplains office to use their funding to purchase a copy of the Septuagint, Brenton’s Version, which they made a soft cover for, for other CI S.M.U. prisoners at this facility.

This is what the Federal Bureau of Prisons calls “limited accommodation” being that I am the only practitioner at this point.  As needs for accommodation grows by more and more people filling the request I filed, we will need a time slot in the chapel to fellowship among ourselves, a locker for religious books, etc.

This should be of interest to state prisoners too, because though the format may be different you can adapt it to fit and the fact that we have finally won in the Fed’s is strong support for any state claim.  God bless you and stay strong in the faith of our fathers.

I strongly urge every Christian Identity adherent to contact Pastor Mark Downey; POB 436; Alexandria, KY  41001 or email him at; just ask for the “New or Unfamiliar Religious Components Questionnaire” form with attachments. Thank you.  God bless you and stay strong in the faith of our fathers.

Kurtis Monschke c/o 98258-011; Political Prisoner C.I.S