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CAIR, Seddiq Law File Complaint Against Maryland County and Prison Ministry of America for Requiring Jail Chaplain to Be Christian

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/28/21) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations National Legal Defense Fund (CAIR) and Seddiq Law today announced the filing of a First Amendment lawsuit against Maryland’s Prince George’s County and the Prison Ministry of America on behalf of Imam Edrees Bridges, who wanted a job as a chaplain in the Prince George’s County Jail only to find out that the position was open to Christians only. 

Lawsuit: Only Christians Could Apply for Jail Chaplain Job (AP) 

https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/business/national-business/article251735388.html

Statement of Applicant’s Christian Faith

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/StatementofApplicantsChristianFaith.pdf

Read the Complaint:

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/BridgesComplaint.pdf

“The First Amendment protects the right of every America to apply for a government position regardless of their religious beliefs,” said CAIR Legal Director Lena Masri.  

“Edrees Bridges has served dutifully as a volunteer chaplain at the Prince George’s County jail. He is highly educated, deeply experienced, and perfectly suited for the job,” added Mirriam Seddiq of Seddiq Law. “To require Christian faith of a chaplain, which is by its very definition a role not limited to a particular religion, is to engage in discrimination based on religion. Edrees, inshallah, will hopefully be Prince George’s County Jail’s chaplain.”

“Incarcerated Muslims are among the nation’s most neglected groups, and CAIR’s commitment to protecting constitutional rights extends to this community,” said CAIR’s Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry. “Approximately a quarter of the individuals detained at this facility identify as Muslim, and religious litmus tests should never be a prerequisite for chaplains who seek to meet their needs.”  

Edrees brings his case under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses.  

“This is about Edrees, but it is also more than about him,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Justin Sadowsky. “This is about the right of Muslim incarcerees to be treated with equal dignity as well.” 

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos. 

END 

CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, lmasri@cair.com; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com; CAIR Trial Attorney Justin Sadowsky, 646-785-9154; jsadowsky@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; Mirriam Saddiq, Seddiq Law Firm, (301) 513-7832; mirriam.seddiq@seddiqlaw.com 

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