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To commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), a federal law that protects persons and religious institutions from discriminatory land use regulations, the Justice Department announced several efforts to increase awareness of RLUIPA’s protections.

As part of this effort, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will hold an outreach event in Newark.

The RLUIPA outreach event will take place at Seton Hall Law School in Newark on Oct. 30, 2023, and will include remarks from U.S. Attorney Sellinger, Civil Rights Division officials, religious leaders in New Jersey whose organizations have benefited from RLUIPA’s protections, and attorneys who have experience litigating RLUIPA cases. For more information about this event and others the Civil Rights Division plans to hold around the country, please see the department’s RLUIPA’s website. All events will be open to the public. 

“RLUIPA provides important protections for religious groups throughout New Jersey,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “Our office is committed to combatting religious discrimination and ensuring that religious groups are treated fairly and equally under local land use laws. We look forward to increasing awareness of RLUIPA and co-hosting this important event at Seton Hall Law School.” 

“Over the last 23 years, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act has helped to combat religious discrimination by protecting the civil rights of faith communities across the country,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “In light of continued anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination, the Justice Department stands ready to use federal civil rights law to ensure that communities can use their property for worship and to freely engage in religious exercise. The anniversary of RLUIPA provides an opportunity to underscore our commitment to protecting religious rights and ensuring that people are able to freely use land to worship and practice their faith.”

RLUIPA was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law on September 22, 2000, and contains provisions covering religious land use and religious exercise by people who are incarcerated.  Since RLUIPA’s passage, the Department has opened over 150 formal investigations and filed 28 lawsuits and 34 friend of the court briefs related to RLUIPA’s land use provisions, including several in the District of New Jersey.  Since 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed 4 lawsuits and 2 friend of court brief’s related to RLUIPA’s land use provisions.  In June 2018, the Justice Department announced its Place to Worship Initiative, which focuses on RLUIPA’s provisions that protect the rights of houses of worship and other religious institutions to worship on their land. More information is available at

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to religious discrimination in land use or zoning decisions may file a complaint with the U.S Attorney’s Office at or call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Hotline at (855) 281-3339.  Individuals may also contact the Civil Rights Division Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at (833) 591-0291 or submit a complaint through the complaint portal on the Place to Worship Initiative website. 

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