Since 1963, American Atheists has been the premier organization fighting for the civil liberties of atheists and the total, absolute separation of government and religion. American Atheists was born out of a court case begun in 1959 by the Murray family which challenged prayer recitation in the public schools.
That case, Murray v. Curlett, was a landmark in American jurisprudence on behalf of our First Amendment rights. It began:
“Your petitioners are atheists, and they define their lifestyle as follows. An atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth – for all men together to enjoy. An atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer, but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it. An atheist accepts that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help lead to a life of fulfillment.”
American Atheists is dedicated to advancing the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of religion from government, and providing information about atheism. Over the last fifty years, American Atheists has fought to defend the separation of religion from government with legal actions, lobbying the federal and state government, and engaging in protests and other public actions to ensure that the rights of atheists are protected.
Members of American Atheists staff are frequent guests in media to defend our policy positions and advocate for the acceptance of atheists throughout the nation.
American Atheists is home to the largest collection of atheist and freethought literature in the world, the Charles E. Stevens American Atheist Library and Archives, and makes available to researchers and members of the public one of the most comprehensive collections of atheist publications from the late 19th century onward.
We have built a robust and diverse community of more than 170 local partners and affiliates across the nation and work with advocates, activists, and coalition partners in all 50 states and internationally.
American Atheists provides resources to those seeking information about atheism, the history of freethought, religion, and mythology, and maintains a speakers bureau for colleges, universities, clubs, and the media.
Our scholarship program recognizes student leaders and advocates and recognizes those whose activism has improved the quality of life for atheists in the United States and protected the Constitutional separation of religion from government.