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Atheists Push Supreme Court to Protect Real Religious Freedom, Preserve Access to Contraception

Cranford, NJ—In an amicus brief filed yesterday, American Atheists urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject attempts by religious employers to use the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to deny contraceptive coverage to employees, even through third-party providers.

In this case, Zubik v. Burwell, religious employers claim that simply telling the government that they are opting out of providing contraceptive coverage directly, thereby allowing employees who wish to receive no-cost coverage to receive it directly from insurance providers, substantially burdens their (the employers’) religious beliefs.

American Atheists’ National Legal Director Amanda Knief, one of the authors of the amicus brief, rejects that argument.

“This case isn’t really about religious freedom. This is about employers using the excuse of religious burden to force their dogma on their employees,” said Knief. “Whether they like it or not, under the Affordable Care Act women are guaranteed access to contraception. These employers are not being forced to use contraception or provide it. Their complaint is entirely that women have access to contraception despite their disapproval.”

“The question in this case is whether the Supreme Court will allow anyone who claims a religious burden to avoid following the law—even when they have been provided an accommodation. We are hopeful that the Court will say ‘enough is enough’ and recognize that telling the government you don’t want to provide contraception is not a substantial religious burden,” Knief added.

American Atheists and Knief collaborated with legal staff from the Center for Inquiry, including Legal Director Nicholas Little and President Ronald Lindsay.

You can read the full text of the amicus brief here.