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Personal Religious Property
Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Baha’i sacred scriptures (the collected writings of Baha’u’llah are considered the word of God). These writings are contained in several volumes (many of which have not been translated). However, foremost in his writings is the Kitab-I Aqdas (The Most Holy Book). Another popular prayer/mediation book is Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

A simple nine-pointed star is used as a symbol of faith. Nine symbolizes completeness. Baha’i Temples are designed in this shape.

Baha’is also cherish calligraphic forms of the word Bahà (Arabic for “Glory”), known as the greatest name. This is often engraved on religious jewelry and buildings to establish Baha’i identity.


1. Religious Medallion and chain
2. Prayer beads (plastic), called mali consisting of 108 beads
3. Small picture of the Buddha

Eastern Right Catholicism

1. Holy cards depicting popular icon images
2. Bible
3. Prayer books
4. Rosary
5. Crucifix
6. Religious medallion and chain
7. Holy cards and icons
9. Scapular (brown and green)


1. A religious medallion and chain, often an image of the Hindu’s favorite deity
2. Prayer beads (plastic), consisting of 108 beads


1. Prayer rug
2. Dhicker beads (plastic)
3. Religious medallion and chain
4. Prayer oil
5. Kufi or Hijab
6. Holy Qur'an
7. Hadith
8. Miswak (wood the length and thickness of a pencil used to clean teeth and mouth)
9. Kurda shirt

Jehovah’s Witnesses

1. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
2. Awake! and Watchtower publications. These are the primary Bible study aids for adherents. Both contain significant doctrinal content, and are published in 152 languages.

Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the use of images or icons, as they believe this violates Biblical prohibitions against idolatry. Therefore, the cross is not accepted as a symbol of Christianity.


1. Prayer tallis
2. Tallis Katan (tsitsit), worn under one's shirt
3. Tefillin
4. Siddur 
5. Yarmulke
6. Head covering for Orthodox women
7. Religious medallion and chain (ordinarily a Star of David)


The religious items used by Orisha worshipers vary from group to group and devotee to devotee. Most devotees wear a necklace or necklaces (collares, also known as Elekes) representing the colors pleasing to their orishas. Coconut rinds or cowrie shells and a straw mat are used as divination tools. A common divination tool is known as Okuele, a larger size necklace with six or eight rinds of coconut.

The best practice with respect to religious items in a detention setting may be to authorize the number, nature, size, and value of Orisha worshipers’ religious items, rather than to specifically name them. The Orisha-worshiping community or the devotee may use up to a specified number of congregate items that will be stored in the chapel; each devotee may retain in his property a specified number of approved personal religious items. Personal items are ordinarily derived from materials at hand, natural goods used as offerings for the gods; e.g., fruit, grains, seeds, vegetables, flowers, four coconut rinds and 21 cowrie shells; scented water (non-alcoholic cologne or after-shave splash), oil or lotion, honey, molasses; a bowl with a lid. A paper image of the Orisha, in the form of a saint, should be authorized.

The main personal religious identifier for any Orisha worshiper is the necklace(s) made in the colors of the Orisha under whose protection he is initiated. The colors and numbers associated with each Orisha are listed in a separate chart.

A Santeria practitioner may have contact with his babalao or priest. A regular practice of a babalao is to use the tools of divination to make a reading on behalf of the Santero. Santero do not have to be present for a reading to take place. The inmate may receive a recipe from his babalao containing a spiritual cleansing/bath (bano) that the Santero needs to take – a personal ceremony of purification that can take place with dry herb smudging or a shower. The elements for a shower cleansing may be obtained through an SPO with a Botanica.

Personal religious items may include any items listed above, but are not limited to those examples. Most personal items or similar items are available in the commissary or can be collected from the compound (e.g., small pebbles, sticks).

Orthodox Christianity

1. Religious medallion and chain
2. Small icon cards
3. Prayer rope (small knotted rope similar to a Catholic rosary, used in connection with the Jesus prayer)
4. Prayer book
5. Church calendar
6. Bible
7. Blessed palms
8. Small container of holy water

Protestant Christianity

1. Religious medallion and chain (usually a cross)
2. Bible
3. Religious headwear may be considered essential for female members of such denominations as Quakers, Mennonites, and the Amish


1. Crowns (A crown may contain some or all of the following colors: red, yellow, green, or black. A crown may not have a bill or peak and must be free of symbols.)
2. Religious medallion and chain (usually an ankh)

Roman Catholicism

1. Bible
2. Prayer books
3. Rosary
4. Crucifix
5. Religious medallion and chain
6. Holy cards and icons
7. Scapular (brown and green)
8. Blessed palms
9. A small container of holy water


1. Prayer Book, called Gutka
2. Guru Granth Sahib
3. Dastaar: turban
4. Kangha: wooden comb
5. Kacchera: specially made cotton underwear
6. Kara: steel bracelet (may not be authorized)
7. Kirpan: small sword or dagger (may not be authorized)
8. Religious medallion called the Khanda and chain
9. Sikh teaching and study materials

All information in this section has been compiled from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Technical Reference for Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices.