News & Blog

Statement in Response to FFRF Litigation Attacking American Atheists

Earlier today, an article was published on The Friendly Atheist regarding an ongoing lawsuit filed in an Arizona court by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The case concerns a significant trust in Arizona that was distributed in 2022 and 2023 among FFRF, American Atheists, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the donor’s son in accordance with his late father’s stated wishes.

American Atheists first learned the shared bequest was being contested in March 2024, when the organization was served by FFRF lawyers. Their lawsuit claims that FFRF should receive a substantially larger share of the trust and asks the court to reverse a 2018 amendment written by the donor, which would compel both American Atheists and Planned Parenthood to turn over all of the funds the organizations received. Although the specific amount is in dispute, it is significant—potentially as much as $300,000 from American Atheists alone.

FFRF leaders have declined American Atheists’ repeated requests to meet with them in order to better understand their concerns and attempt to reach a resolution without engaging in costly and harmful litigation. 

Nick Fish, President of American Atheists, issued the following statement: 

For years, American Atheists has been proud to work alongside FFRF and other coalition partners on litigation and legislation that advance our collective goals. Our members have made it clear: Collaboration is a priority. And we understand our secular community is better served when we stand together. 

That is why we are profoundly disappointed that the leadership of FFRF has decided to pursue such an aggressive course of action against two of its longtime partners and against the clearly expressed intentions of a mutual benefactor. 

FFRF’s decision damages a longstanding relationship, undermines the coalition we have worked so hard to build, and jeopardizes our ability to continue collaborating with trust and in good faith, but it also harms the entire secular community, which counts on organizations like ours to advocate on their behalf and act in accordance with our shared values. 

FFRF’s actions might, understandably, discourage supporters from making charitable contributions or including organizations in our community in their estate planning. Please know American Atheists is committed to honoring the wishes of our donors, and we believe every donor has the right to expect their generous contributions will be used to fulfill our mission, not to attack our allies. 

Unfortunately, this has already cost American Atheists tens of thousands of dollars—resources that would be far better used advancing our collective and increasingly urgent fight against deep-pocketed Christian nationalists that want to destroy church-state separation and dismantle our democracy. 

Although we are disheartened, we continue to hope for an amicable and timely resolution. And no matter the outcome, I can assure you that American Atheists will never waver from our mission—to protect civil rights, advance political equality, achieve social inclusion, and empower atheists and other nonreligious people—especially now.