For Immediate Release
Kate Uesugi, email@example.com, 202-238-9088 (ext. 105)
(Washington, DC, June 24, 2021) – Today, the American Humanist Association (AHA)’s Legal Director threatened Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles with legal action over an unconstitutional religious treatment program.
“Texas – a state that prides itself on ‘religious freedom’ – is literally forcing an atheist to believe in ‘God’ as a condition of parole,” explained AHA’s Legal Director and Senior Counsel Monica Miller. “We expect Texas to respond favorably to my letter in light of the well-settled nature of the law and the egregiousness of this particular violation. If not, we’ll see them in court.”
The AHA’s letter details that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is compelling an AHA member in their custody to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous, a program that includes faith-based and spirituality-based material, or risk forfeiting parole. The State of Texas refuses to allow the humanist inmate to partake in a secular alternative program as the law requires.
In the letter, Miller explained that the program is not only unconstitutionally coercive but also that the “refusal to offer secular treatment programs to non-theistic inmates (including Humanists and Buddhists) amounts to religious discrimination in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” The letter serves as an official notice of the unconstitutional activity and demands that immediate action is taken to put a stop to this and any similar illegal activity.
Read the letter here.
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The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.