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Atheists: The Trump Administration is Undermining Religious Equality

Washington, DC—American Atheists led a coalition of atheist and secular groups in raising serious concerns about how the Trump administration has eroded religious equality, undermining the civil rights of all Americans.

Joined by the American Humanist Association (AHA), Center for Inquiry (CFI), Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Secular Coalition for America (SCA), and Secular Student Alliance (SSA), American Atheists submitted comments to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in regards to the public briefing, “Are Rights a Reality? Evaluating Federal Civil Rights Enforcement.” (Doc. No. 2018-22963)

American Atheists denounced three ways in which the Trump administration is willfully weakening civil rights protections. First, with its deliberate disregard for legal precedent, the administration is refusing to enforce civil rights laws. Second, not only is it failing to guarantee these rights, it is actively opposing them. Third, the administration is enshrining particular religious viewpoints into the law through unconstitutional exemptions.

“With this outright assault on civil rights, the Trump administration is conducting a search and destroy mission on religious equality,” explained Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists. “This administration is more than willing to sacrifice civil rights on the altar of religious privilege and Christian supremacy.”

In the submitted comments, Gill points to now-former-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2017 memorandum, which indicates that a religious exemption’s ability to “deprive a third party of a benefit does not categorically render an exemption unavailable.”

“In other words, a religious group can discriminate as it sees fit,” continued Gill. “However, the Trump administration needs to know, religion is not above the law.”