Statement by the President: S. 2869 - the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (9/22/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                         September 22, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I am pleased to sign into law S. 2869, the "Religious Land Use
and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000," which will provide important
protections for religious exercise in America.  This Act will, in certain
cases, forbid State and local governments from imposing a substantial
burden on the exercise of religion unless they could demonstrate that
imposition of such a burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a
compelling governmental interest.  The Act would protect the exercise of
religion in two situations:  (1) where State and local governments seek to
impose or implement a zoning or landmark law in a manner that imposes a
substantial burden on religious exercise and (2) where State and local
governments seek to impose a substantial burden on the religious exercise
of persons residing or confined to certain institutions.

     I applaud the Congress, particularly Senators Kennedy, Hatch, Reid,
and Schumer, and Representatives Canady and Nadler for their hard work in
passing this legislation.  The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act will provide protec-tion for one of our country's greatest
liberties -- the exercise of religion -- while carefully preserving the
civil rights of all Americans.  Just as I fully supported the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, I support Senator Kennedy's and Hatch's
bill.  Religious liberty is a constitutional value of the highest order,
and the Framers of the Constitution included protection for the free
exercise of religion in the very first Amendment.  This Act recognizes the
importance the free exercise of religion plays in our democratic society.

     I also want to thank the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion
and the civil rights community for the central role they
played in crafting this legislation.  Their work in passing this
legislation once again demonstrates that people of all political bents and
faiths can work together for a common purpose that benefits all Americans.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    September 22, 2000.

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