Humanism on the Move


Apr. 7, 2010

American Atheists held their 36th National Convention over Easter weekend in Newark, New Jersey. The convention's theme was "Blasphemy?–On the dangers of privileging religious beliefs," and included such notable speakers including Cecil Bothwell, an atheist city councilman from Asheville, NC, Wendy Kaminer, author and social critic, and others.


The Appignani Humanist Legal Center, legal arm of the American Humanist Association, joined the Unitarian Universalist Association and other nonprofits in filing an amicus brief in a case that challenges whether an organization that discriminates in its membership can demand public subsidies. The brief was filed in the case Cradle of Liberty Council, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, in which a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) chapter sued the city of Philadelphia when the city refused to continue offering the chapter rent-free office space as long as their discriminatory policy, which barred membership to atheists, agnostics, and gays and lesbians, was still in place.

"It's outrageous that the Boy Scouts of America thinks they have the right to force taxpayers to support their policies of discrimination against the nontheist and LGBT communities," said Bob Ritter, staff attorney of the American Humanist Association. "Although they certainly have a First Amendment right to bar membership to whomever they please, the government cannot be compelled to support them in the form of offering public subsidies. In fact, the Establishment Clause, which bans government establishment of religion, prohibits them from doing so."

The case is currently before the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.