Last December, New York Governor Kathy Hochul inexplicably vetoed our Secular Recovery Bill.

We denounced Gov. Hochul’s betrayal of secular New Yorkers, preventing atheists, agnostics, and other nonreligious people from being informed of their constitutional right to access secular addiction treatment programs instead of forcing them into religion-centered options like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Despite this setback, we didn’t give up. We continued to build support for this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.

And this week, that hard work paid off. S.5332/A.5074, having already passed the New York Assembly, passed the Senate with a vote of 45–16.

Now it heads to Governor Hochul for her signature.

Now, having spent the past year working with partner organizations to build support with allies in the governor’s administration and the judicial system, we’re confident the Gov. Hochul will do the right thing and sign the Secular Recovery Bill.

After Gov. Hochul’s veto, we also worked with journalists to elevate this issue and make the case for protecting the right of all New Yorkers to access secular treatment programs.

We know this is a very real problem facing atheists and other nonreligious people when dealing with addiction treatment and the criminal justice system.

Based on our research, our community frequently faces discrimination when accessing mental health and addiction treatment services. And when that happens, people are almost twice as likely to experience negative outcomes like depression.

When she vetoed the Secular Recovery Bill last year, Governor Hochul questioned whether it was even necessary to inform people of their rights.

But the fact that we’re in court right now defending the rights of our client in West Virginia who simply wants to access a secular alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous makes it crystal clear that judges and other government officials are all too eager to trample the rights of atheists and nonreligious people.

Making progress on these issues can take years of hard work and requires us to use every tool in our toolkit: commissioning studies to identify the problem, using data to show policymakers how deeply the issues affect our community, fighting in court to protect the rights of individuals, and working with state legislatures to fix the problem once and for all.

But this nationwide work is only possible because of the generosity of members like you. Will you support our work with a tax-deductible gift of $50, $100, or $500 today?

In solidarity,

Nick Fish

PS: Once we pass the Secular Recovery Bill in New York, we’re eager to do the same in other states across the country. Colorado Governor Jared Polis just signed our Patients’ Right To Know Act and already legislatures in other states have reached out to us for help developing similar bills in their states. We have momentum on our side, but we need your help to act. Now is the time to chip in and support our state-level work nationwide with a tax-deductible gift of $50, $100, or more. 

American Atheists is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization that relies on the support of members like you. Contributions are tax-deductible. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 74-2466507 and our Combined Federal Campaign number is 52217.

American Atheists
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See The courage to change the things we can blog post for updates.

See Secular Recovery Bill blog post for more details.

See bill vetoed blog post for updated details.

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