Atheists’ Lawsuit Challenging Special Treatment of Churches by IRS Dismissed

American Atheists announced on Monday that its lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service in American Atheists v. Shulman was dismissed on standing by the Eastern District Court of Kentucky. The case alleged that the IRS discriminates in its filing requirements for nonreligious nonprofit organizations compared to its requirements for religious organizations and churches.

 “We’re very disappointed in the court’s decision,” said American Atheists President Dave Silverman. “The court has upheld a prejudiced government practice. This isn’t just about atheists; American Atheists will continue to fight this blatant discrimination on behalf of all taxpayers and all Americans. Make no mistake: this case is not over. ”

“We are reviewing our legal options,” said American Atheists Interim National Legal Director Eric Husby. “Giving churches and houses of worship the benefits of tax-exempt status without requiring them to play by the same rules as everyone else is fundamentally unequal. We all deserve a government that treats everyone the same.”

The lawsuit, originally filed on December 12, 2012, lists American Atheists with two co-plaintiffs, Atheist Archives of Kentucky, Inc. and Atheists of Northern Indiana, Inc. The text of the suit is available online at the link below, and more information is available on the website.


Text of suit from December 12, 2012:

More information:

Text of opinion from May 19, 2014:

For more information, contact:

Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director 908-276-7300 x7, [email protected]


AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.


American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

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  • Exnihil

    “Dismissed on standing” — translation: you’re suing for something that doesn’t materially affect you in any way.

    Obviously American Atheists isn’t content to simply not believe in God (as is their right), but are trying to interfere with people who do beleve in God. The court threw out this case because AA was using it to harm other people, not because AA itself was being harmed.

    Why not try to change laws using the ballot box instead of the courts?

    • j daniel

      Are you serious? In what way does the lawsuit “harm other people”? It’s about stopping the unconstitutional, preferential treatment of churches & religious-based organizations by the IRS. AA took a stand on behalf of ALL tax-paying individuals, businesses, & organizations in an attempt to create equality. So, yes… “AA isn’t content to simply not believe in god” – thankfully.

      By the way, the question you posed at the end of your idiotic post almost made my head explode.

      • In loco parentibus

        If the concept of deciding issues by voting makes your head explode, perhaps you should move to North Korea. Throwing a tantrum when you lose or don’t get your way is immature.

        • DesertPenguin

          I think he meant that the laws against treating churches specially is already on the books for anyone who knows anything about this country and the founding documents.

  • Fujikoma

    It’s far easier to sue for the same rights and then use them the same way as religious organizations. After a while, people will get the picture.

    • Fujicoma

      Yes, people will get the picture that atheists are not content to simply not believe, but have an obsessive need to attack believers using lawsuits due to a lack of public support for their pathetic attempts at bullying.

      • Fujikoma

        Such an inaccurate statement… atheists had no need to use lawsuits until believers started legislating their beliefs into society (violating Amendment 1).

        Since when is it our fault that the god of believers is so weak, that people have to constantly be harrassed with government authorized displays (not private) and intentional lying in the public schools (creationism/i.d./sex ed. restrictions/pictures of Jesus/prayer banners…).

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