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Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Telescope: Hawaii State Supreme Court Affirmed Sacred Beliefs Not Applicable
By News Release @ 8:11 PM :: 3861 Views :: Hawaii County , First Amendment, Greenmail, Higher Education, OHA

Hawaii State Supreme Court Affirmed Sacred Beliefs Not Applicable

Does Not Give Sacred Believers Legal Right To Stop Astronomy

From TMT.org, March 25, 2020

In 2018, the Hawaii Supreme Court affirmed the Board of Land and Natural Resources decision authorizing issuance of a Conservation District Use Permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope.

On the matter of religious freedom, the Hawaii State Supreme Court Affirmed BLNR's Conclusion that sacred beliefs not applicable and that Customary and Traditional Native Hawaiian rights are appropriately protected.

"On religious freedom (Section B 400; 409) the word sacred has been used to describe Mauna Kea. The common meaning of the word "sacred" is essentially spiritual and religious. Clearly many of the parties and witnesses have used "sacred" in this sense, and while the government must respect the absolute right of people to hold these beliefs, a government body issuing formal decisions like Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order cannot declare that a site is or is not sacred in the spiritual sense. Sacred in this sense is a matter of belief; it cannot be objectively judged.

The government can acknowledge and respect that many people believe a site to be sacred. Belief in an area's religious sacredness does not make development of that area an unconstitutional infringement of religion, and does not give the believer a legal right to stop the development.

Constitutional protection means protection against unreasonable interference with religious practices; such protections do not prevent the government from taking actions that offend religious beliefs.

Petitioners and Opposing Intervenors claim broadly that their beliefs should give them veto power over any proposes land use on Mauna Kea. The law does not support that view."

PDF: BLNR Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision and Order

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