'Sun Worshipping Atheism' is not a religion, Californian court rules

State flag of California.Phot: Pixabay

A Californian appellate court has affirmed an earlier ruling that Sun Worshipping Atheism is not a religion.

According to Raw Story, the California Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that Marshel Copple's Sun Worshipping Atheism did not satisfy the requirements of a three-point checklist in order to be considered a religion.

The appellate court ruled that Sun Worshipping Atheism failed to demonstrate that it addresses "fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters," and that it is comprehensive and not limited to only one subject matter. The court also said that religions "can often be recognised by the presence of certain formal and external signs," all of which are not present in Copple's atheism. 

The case began after Copple, a former officer at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, resigned from his work claiming that he was denied religious accommodation by the department. Copple promptly filed suit alleging religious discrimination, failure to accommodate and constructive discharge.

According to Copple, the Sun Worshipping Atheism advocates sleeping at least eight hours a day, daily fresh air, frequent exercise, having a job, social interaction, and scepticism of one's surroundings. As his job required eight hours of mandatory overtime if needed and up to 16 hours of overtime in the rare instances of a prison riot, Copple requested that the department limit his duty to eight hours a day. 

According to the National Law Review, the Department denied his request. Copple then resigned and filed his lawsuit.

A Court issued summary judgement on Copple's suit and ruled that Sun Worshipping Atheism was not a religion, and there was no basis for the Department to grant Copple's request for religious accommodation. Copple appealed, and the Courts of Appeals upheld the decision on Tuesday.

"Although there is a set of principles on which plaintiff relies to guide his life, it reflects a moral and secular, rather than religious, philosophy," the court ruling said.