Editorial: Codification of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act

August 1, 2003

Source: Indian Country Today


On August 1, 2003 Indian Country Today printed an editorial by Suzan Shown Harjo stating that "the American Indian Religious Freedom Act turns 25 on Aug. 11, and there is every reason to both celebrate it and complete its unfinished agenda... AIRFA articulates the policy of the United States to 'protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, and Native Hawaiians...' Now comes a shadow of that shadow in the form of a bill in the House that purports to 'codify' that executive order. Sadly, the main thing it would do is make mischief... The House bill contains a virtually unusable cause of action. It sets the bar at the lowest possible standard - arbitrary and capricious - which means that a federal agency would have to laugh in your face and at the law, and all in writing, with witnesses, before you could take it to court."