Coalition reinstates anti-discrimination rules scrapped by the Trump administration (May 2, 2024)


The Freedom from Religion Foundation, along with a coalition of service and advocacy organizations, filed a lawsuit on January 19, 2021 against eight federal agencies for undoing rules that protected those receiving social services from discrimination based on religion.

Previously, federal rules had required faith-based organizations that provided critical, taxpayer funded services to inform recipients of their legal right to: not be discriminated against, not to have to attend religious programming, and to be given the option for a referral to an alternate provider. These rules helped protect the most vulnerable from being forced to attend a Bible study or join in a prayer in order to access basic rights such as food or shelter. Without these protections those who were seeking services may have needlessly opted into religious activities or forgone assistance altogether in order to avoid participation. This lawsuit sought to have these rules declared a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and reverse the rollback of the previous protections. 

When the Biden administration took over, the case was stayed while the new administration worked to adopt updated rules. On May 2, 2024, the lawsuit was voluntarily dropped after new rules reinstated safeguards that ensured people were not forced to attend or participate in religious activities. The Biden administration rules additionally eliminated Trump-era provisions that were designed to allow social service providers to refuse to provide key services and that were intended to open the door to discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs.

The case (1:21-cv-00475) was in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

The coalition consisted of: MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, SAGE, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Ark of Freedom Alliance, FFRF, American Atheists, and the Hindu American Foundation. Democracy Forward, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Lambda Legal represented the plaintiffs.

Freedom From Religion Foundation