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Trump Admin Strips Discrimination Protections from Federally-Funded Religious Programs

Washington, D.C.—Today, American Atheists denounced the Trump Administration’s proposal to strip discrimination protections from Americans receiving taxpayer-funded services from religious providers.

Under the last administration, President Obama signed executive orders to add protections for beneficiaries of government services provided by religious organizations with federal dollars. With these proposed rules, the Trump Administration would remove the requirement to refer people to a different provider if they object to the religious nature of the service. This rule will impact atheists, women, religious minorities, LGBTQ people, and anyone who objects to religion being imposed upon them when receiving federal services.

“By removing protections that shield minority groups from discrimination, the Trump Adminstration is proving how virulently opposed to religious equality it is. Whenever a policy creates the slightest inconvenience for Trump’s Evangelical base, this Administration eliminates it, regardless of consequences,” said Alison Gill, American Atheists’ Vice President for Legal and Policy.

This year, American Atheists helped numerous atheists assert their right to these beneficiary protections in the face of inappropriate religious coercion. 

In one case, a nonreligious student enrolled in a nursing program at a public college in Florida and was required to complete a clinical rotation at a religious hospital. At no point was she referred to an equivalent secular clinic, nor was she provided written notice that she had the right to a secular alternative. When the student objected to her placement, the college refused to take action.

“The college essentially forced this student to engage in religious indoctrination, including professing the supposed benefits of prayer and accompanying patients during chapel services. In addition, the college limited her future career advancement by keeping her at a hospital that would have discriminated against her in its hiring decisions because she is nonreligious,” explained Gill.

“Had the Trump administration already removed these protections, this student would have had no recourse,” added Gill. “These protections are essential to preserving religious equality in this country.”

“Time and time again, the Trump Administration has shown it doesn’t care about religious freedom for all Americans. It only cares about doling out spoils to Christian nationalists to solidify his base for the 2020 election,” said American Atheists’ President Nick Fish. “By stripping out these basic protections, Donald Trump is making taxpayers complicit in forced religious indoctrination and discrimination. It’s an outrage and a complete abdication of his oath to protect and defend the Constitution.”