Earlier this week, we celebrated news that the Biden Administration has finalized rules prohibiting religion-based discrimination by taxpayer-funded social service providers – something we’ve been demanding for more than five years.

These new regulations will ensure that government-funded social service providers inform people seeking services of their legal right to be free from discrimination and forced participation in prayer or other religious programming.

As I see it, this is an achievement worth celebrating in an otherwise troubling news cycle. When they take effect in early April, the final rules will rescind harmful Trump-era policies and restore civil rights protections for millions of Americans who depend on government-funded social services — from shelters for the unhoused and survivors of domestic violence, to food banks, job training, education programs, elder care, and more.

Back in 2021, members like you submitted almost 25,000 comments opposing the Trump Administration’s changes, and American Atheists joined other religious equality advocacy groups in a lawsuit to stop their implementation. Then, last year, our Legal & Policy team prepared comments in support of the proposed new regulations and offered amendments to even further strengthen nondiscrimination protections for nonreligious Americans.

We wrote: “American Atheists believes that government programs should be inclusive and accessible to people regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.”

We still believe that, and I’m proud to say our advocacy work is making a real difference. These changes by the Biden Administration are a crucial step in fulfilling our nation’s promise of equality under the law, regardless of one’s religious or nonreligious beliefs.

Also this week, American Atheists joined forces with dozens of other civil rights organizations to oppose a nationwide push by Christian nationalist lobbyists and legislators to place religious chaplains in public schools. Texas became the first state to pass school chaplain legislation in 2023. This year, similar bills have already been introduced in 14 states, including Florida, where our members have been bravely fighting back.

On Wednesday, three open letters to state lawmakers were released — one signed by more than 200 chaplains, another from faith groups, and the one we signed, which highlighted not only the fact that these bills trample on the constitutional rights of students and their families but also the dangers of permitting unqualified chaplains to assume the responsibilities of mental health professionals and school counselors. As Nick said: “Our nation’s students need evidence-based services from qualified mental health professionals – not religious instruction, recruitment, and coercion.”

When we’re not effecting meaningful change for nonreligious Americans at the federal level or building bridges to oppose Christian nationalist legislation at the state level, we’re getting ready for our 2024 National Convention in Philadelphia.

March 28-31 is just around the corner, and I, for one, can hardly wait. There are so many fun events and great speakers to look forward to. Most of all, I’m eager to be in the company of hundreds of fellow atheists, activists, and advocates. I really hope you’ll be among them.


Alison Gill
Vice President, Legal & Policy

PS: It’s not too late to register to attend our upcoming national convention, but be sure to get your tickets soon!! You can find more information about the venue, our speakers, and registration here. See you in a few weeks!

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