shutterstock_138869051-e1412957473470-638x425In a landmark decision last week, a federal judge in Oregon declared ‘secular humanism’ to be a religion, opining that those who profess to be atheists and secular humanists should be afforded equal protection rights under the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and be allowed to enjoy the same liberties to practice religion that religious groups are able to enjoy. Jason Holden, an atheist inmate who is serving time at the Federal Correctional Institute in Sheridan, Oregon, filed suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons in April for rejecting his requests to form a study group on humanism. The Federal Bureau of Prisons denied the request on the ground that humanism was not a religious affiliation under existing prison classification, and hence Holden elevated it to federal court. Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty of the federal district court ruled in favor of Holden in order to exercise his constitutional right to form a humanist study group. Haggerty ruled that Holden’s constitutional rights were violated under the First and Fifth Amendments. In his ruling, he moved to recognize secular humanism as a religion for “Establishment Clause” purposes. Under the Establishment Clause, Haggerty’s rationale is that secular humanism must be able to enjoy the same liberties as other religious organizations because it is a constitutional principle that no religion shall be established above others as a state religion. More