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Local Prison Questioned Over Prayer Policies

Officials at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute say that they are following court orders to allow inmates to pray in pairs in their cells. 

American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh is one of the Muslim inmates at the prison. 

Warden John Oliver told a federal judge that when the prison in Terre Haute allowed group prayer earlier this year, Muslim inmates formed gangs and bullied other prisoners. A U.S. District Judge ruled that barring Lindh and his fellow Muslims from engaging in daily group prayer violates a 1993 law that bans the government from curtailing religious speech without showing a compelling interest. 

The ACLU says that prison officials aren’t meeting the requirements of the court order because he allowed only three group prayers per day in a single room, instead of the five that Lindh said his faith requires. The prison converted a recreation room into a “meditation room” to accommodate group prayers but say that some used the prayers to set up a prison gang, and intimidated other prisoners of other faiths. 

The judge will rule later on whether the prison has violated the order.