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American Atheists Opposes HUD’s Plan to Rollback Housing Protections for Nonreligious Americans

Cranford, NJ—On Tuesday, American Atheists submitted comments opposing a proposed rule by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would rollback housing civil rights protections for atheists, religious minorities, people of color, and other minority groups.

“American Atheists has grave concerns regarding the impact the proposed rule will have on the ability of atheists and others in the nonreligious community to protect their right to be free from discriminatory housing practices,” wrote Geoffrey Blackwell, litigation counsel for American Atheists. 

American Atheists recently launched the U.S. Secular Survey, the largest study of nonreligious Americans and the discrimination they face, including in housing.

“Many atheists and other nonreligious individuals are subjected to intentional discrimination,” said Blackwell, citing a Michigan town that only allowed Christians to buy houses as one out of countless examples.

“However, nonreligious Americans also often face subtle but pernicious forms of housing discrimination through policies and practices that, while not discriminatory on their face, nonetheless are discriminatory in effect against the nonreligious,” he added.

Blackwell cited the example of a New Jersey retirement community that prevented men and women from swimming together during six days out of the week, forcing all residents wishing to use the community’s private pool to conform to the practices of the Orthodox Jewish community.

“HUD’s proposed rule would impose a drastically higher burden on victims of this more subtle form of housing discrimination, rendering it much more difficult to challenge policies and practices that disproprtionately harm the nonreligious,” he added.

American Atheists urges HUD to withdraw the proposed rule in its entirety.