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Biden Administration to End Trump-Era Policy Allowing Discrimination by Religious Federal Contractors

Washington, D.C.—Today, the religious equality watchdog American Atheists praised the Biden Administration and the Department of Labor for proposing rescission of a Trump-era regulation that allows federal contractors to discriminate against workers on the basis of religion.

In December 2020, the Trump Administration expanded government contractors’ ability to ignore civil rights and anti-discrimination laws by claiming religious exemptions. With nearly a quarter of Americans working for employers with federal contracts, the Biden Administration’s decision to rescind this policy is important and far-reaching.

“We applaud the Biden Administration for restoring workers’ freedom of religion,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy. “The government should never fund businesses that justify discrimination based on religious beliefs. And American taxpayers should never be forced to be complicit in discrimination.”

The Trump-era rule particularly harmed protected minority groups. Under it, any federal contractor—even a construction company, janitorial service, or healthcare provider—could claim a religious mission and refuse to hire any group they disapproved of as long as they cited a religious reason.

“Finally, atheists, LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities will see these important protections restored,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “Let me be clear: The people who will be complaining about this change do not care about religious freedom—they only care about how they can use religion as a weapon against people different from them.”

“I applaud President Biden, Secretary Walsh, and this administration for protecting American workers from religiously motivated discrimination,” Fish added.