Prisoners fight to watch solar eclipse claiming it a ‘religious event’ | US News


Prisoners fight to watch solar eclipse claiming it a ‘religious event’ | US News

Share this article

Six New York state prisoners filed a lawsuit arguing their constitutional right to witness the April 8 solar eclipse (Picture: Getty Images)

Inmates who were offered solar eclipse viewing glasses to watch the rare phenomenon – only for the state prison to change its mind – are fighting for their right on the grounds that it is a ‘religious event’.

Six men incarcerated in New York state facilities are arguing that they have a constitutional right to witness the ‘religiously significant’ total eclipse on April 8, which last happened in the US in 2017 and won’t again until 2044.

This coming Monday afternoon, those in the path of totality including some viewers in New York state will experience a period of darkness as the Moon blocks the face of the Sun from the Earth.

The six prisoners of five different religions filed a lawsuit in federal court against the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) on Friday.

A total solar eclipse on April 8 will enter over Mexico’s Pacific coast, dash up through Texas and Oklahoma, crisscross the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England, before exiting over eastern Canada into the Atlantic (Picture: AP)

‘A solar eclipse is a rare, natural phenomenon with great religious significance to many,’ states the complaint.

The inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County ‘have each expressed a sincerely held religious belief that April’s solar eclipse is a religious event that they must witness and reflect on to observe their faiths’, it reads.

Jeremy Zielinski, who is an atheist, first requested that the solar eclipse be recognized as a religious event in late January, more than two months ahead of the date.

On March 5, he was ‘informed that the facility would buy and provide him with solar eclipse viewing glasses for use to watch the eclipse’, states the suit.

The last total solar eclipse over the US occurred on August 21, 2017 (Picture: Getty Images)

But six days later, the DOCCS acting commissioner issued a statewide ‘lockdown memo’ saying that the facilities would operate on a holiday schedule on April 8 and that inmates ‘will remain in housing units’ from 2pm to 5pm, which is their usual outdoor recreation window.

See also  Are VGA Cables Finally The Relic Of The Old Tech?

Each of the six prisoners expressed their own reasons for needing to see the solar eclipse.

‘Mr. Zielinski firmly believes that observing the solar eclipse with people of different faiths is crucial to practicing his own faith because it is a central aspect of atheism to celebrate common humanity and bring people together to encourage people to find common ground,’ states the suit.

Two of the co-plaintiffs are Christian, including Travis Hudson who is a Baptist and David Haigh who is a Seventh Day Adventist.

People watch the solar eclipse from the observation deck of The Empire State Building in New York City on August 21, 2017 (Picture: Reuters)

Hudson ‘believes that it is vital to his faith to observe the solar eclipse and reflect on what he believes Jesus saw moments before he died on the cross to forgive (his) sins,’ the suit reads.

Meanwhile, Haigh ‘sincerely believes that it is key to his faith to observe the solar eclipse and reflect on what he believes is the same phenomenon experienced by Jesus Christ before he died’, it states.

A fourth plaintiff, Jean Marc Desmarat, is Muslim and ‘sincerely believes observing the solar eclipse and saying a special prayer is critical to practicing his religion’, according to the suit.

The path of the sun during a total eclipse by the moon (Picture: AP)

Two more plaintiffs are followers of the Santeria religion. Prisoner Bruce Moses’ ‘sincerely held religious beliefs include the practice of witnessing the solar eclipse and making a spiritual offering’, per the suit.

Fellow Santeria follower Oscar Nunez’s ‘sincerely held religious beliefs include the practice of praying and chanting to the moon and the sun for blessings while they meet at the time of the solar eclipse’, it reads.

The prisoners’ lawyers are urging a judge to make a ruling on the matter before the end of the week.

See also  Optimize Your Ecommerce Business Stands Out From the Crowd

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, check our news page.

MORE : US warned Russia that Moscow city hall could be target for attack

MORE : Terrifying moment elephant charges at tourists as safari truck driver suddenly stops

MORE : The Moon is getting its own time zone – but why?

Source Link Website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *