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New York inmates are suing to watch the solar eclipse after state orders prisons locked down

Inmates in New York are suing the state corrections department over the decision to lock down prisons during next Monday’s total solar eclipse.

The suit filed Friday in federal court in upstate New York argues that the April 8 lockdown violates inmates’ constitutional rights to practice their faiths by preventing them from taking part in a religiously significant event.

The plaintiffs are six men with varying religious backgrounds who are incarcerated at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne. They include a Baptist, a Muslim, a Seventh-Day Adventist and two practitioners of Santeria, as well as an atheist.

“A solar eclipse is a rare, natural phenomenon with great religious significance to many,” the complaint reads, noting that Bible passages describe an eclipse-like phenomenon during Jesus’ crucifixion while sacred Islamic works describes a similar event when the Prophet Muhammad’s son died.

The celestial event, which was last visible in the U.S. in 2017 and won’t be seen in the country again until 2044, “warrant gathering, celebration, worship, and prayer,” the complaint reads.

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