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Government leaders align with former foes in beard lawsuit

The Becket Fund and the U.S. government have gone from adversaries to allies in their religious freedom work.
Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News Modified: August 26, 2014 at 12:18 am •  Published: August 26, 2014

The next religious freedom case on the Supreme Court's docket involves prisons, beards and adversaries-turned-allies.

In Holt v. Hobbs, Muslim prisoner Gregory Holt seeks the right to maintain a "one-half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs." A federal trial court and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals previously sided in favor of the Arkansas Department of Corrections and its prohibition of Holt's beard.

In a column for Religion News Service, Daniel Bennett noted that the case illustrates the "complicated enterprise" of religious freedom work. Because of the wide variety of issues encapsulated by the term, organizations that battle against each other in one lawsuit might be aligned on the next.

For example, Holt v. Hobbs has marshalled the support of the two groups that June's Hobby Lobby decision divided: The Becket Fund (which serves as part of Holt's legal team) and the Obama administration.

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