Nov 9, 2016

'I'm Going to Confront the Devil Herself!'

Courthouse News Service
November 08, 2016

Church of Satan
ALBUQUERQUE (CN) — A member of the Church of Satan has sued the Corrections Corporation of America, claiming it refused to let her have a Satanic Bible during her three-year term, and punished her for her religion.Monica Lujan sued CCA and three of its employees, including a prison chaplain, and a chaplain in the New Mexico Corrections Department, all save for CCA in their individual capacities.

Her Nov. 4 lawsuit in Bernalillo County Court does not say why Lujan was sentenced to prison for three years, though she says it was for a nonviolent offense.

Lujan says she has practiced Satanism "since she was a child.""Contrary to popular belief, the Church of Satan does not promote a belief in Satan," she says in the complaint. "Instead, the religion is predicated on pragmatism, materialism and skepticism, generally promoting a libertarian social view and emphasizing law and order."

Nor does the Church of Satan promote belief in Satan, she says, but "regards Satan as the symbol of pride, liberty and individualism."

CCA, the nation's largest profit-seeking prison company, runs the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility for the state of New Mexico. Lujan says the prison staff refused her request for a copy of the Satanic Bible when she arrived, and throughout her term. Each time, she says, prison employees told her that the New Mexico Corrections Department prohibits Satanism.Lujan says that when defendant James Compton, a CCA-employed prison chaplain, told her the prison system did not allow Satanic material, she filed a formal grievance.

Shortly thereafter, she says, Compton berated her about her religion, shouting: "I'm going to confront the devil herself!" and ordering her to never again ask him to recognize her religion.

After that incident, a search of her belongings turned up photocopies of a portion of the Satanic Bible, a prayer book, religious artifacts and a drawing of a pentagram, Lujan says. In response to a question about her religion, Lujan says, she told the searching officer that she practiced Satanism, at which point nearly all her belongings were confiscated.

Along with her religious texts and objects, Lujan says, guards confiscated "T-shirts, boxers, socks, shoes, underwear, a thermal shirt, coffee, laundry soap, an unopened bottle of shampoo, an unopened bottle of conditioner, make-up, a new toothbrush, an unused bar of soap, tampons, sanitary napkins, sheets, towels, one of two blankets, and her pillow," as well as "legal paperwork, including correspondence between Ms. Lujan and her attorney."

For the last four months of her incarceration, she says, she was left with a single pair of underwear, which she had to wash in the shower or sink, because "Satanic material was prohibited." She says few of her belongings were ever returned to her, even when she was released, in August.

She seeks damages for pain and suffering and for violations of the New Mexico Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and the state and federal constitutions, and costs of suit.She is represented by Elisabeth Bechtold with the ACLU of New Mexico and Laura Schauer Ives with Kennedy Kennedy & Ives, both of Albuquerque.

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