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Inmate Needs Stuffed Animals to Meditate; 2nd Cir. Allows Religious Claims

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

It's not nice to make fun of people's religions, and sometimes it's illegal.

Like Christopher Grief, who believes that stuffed animals are necessary to practicing his religion. He wanted some inside his jail cell and sued so he could worship.

A federal judge thought it was nonsense, but an appeals court disagreed. After all, hasn't everybody at least adored a stuffed animal once in their life?

Religious Freedom

Grief, in pro per, made a plausible argument to the U.S. Second Court of Appeals in Grief v. Quay. He claimed violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the complaint he filed last year.

He said he owned "an abundance of stuffed animals most of his life," and he feels comfort around both animals and stuffed animals. He receives spiritual guidance from them during meditation, his lawsuit claimed.

U.S. Judge Pamela Chen didn't believe it and tossed the suit. She said his belief's were "so bizarre, so clearly nonreligious in motivation, as not to be entitled to protection."

The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, saying Grief had a plausible religious belief in stuffed animals. But what's wrong with this picture?

Plushie Fetish

According to reports, Grief is a plushie. The New York Daily News reported that means he suffers from a psychiatric disorder known as "plushophilia."

He was arrested in 2014 as part of a federal investigation into child porn on the internet. If convicted, Grief faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.

The appeals court said nothing about that in its opinion. No doubt, the trial judge will review the record for her next decision.

Meanwhile, Grief will have to find comfort in something other than stuffed animals --or maybe find a new religion?

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