Portland, Ore. Code May Mandate Churches to Hire Atheists

Portland, Oregon's city ordinance protecting atheists from discrimination may apply to church situations if the religious exemption is not clear. The exemption may not apply to allow churches to also terminate ministers' employment if their views become atheist after being hired, or may not apply to an applicant who claims denomination membership while non-believing in the tenants of that denomination. (USACE photo)

RNS – Nonbelievers in Portland, Ore., are feeling affirmed this week after the city council amended the city’s Civil Rights code to extend protection from discrimination to atheists, agnostics and other people who claim no religion.

“What it is is validating because my city thinks I am of the same value as any other individual, and it isn’t OK for somebody to discriminate against me or anybody like me,” said Cheryl Kolbe, president of the Portland-area chapter of the Freedom of Religion Foundation.

The Portland city code had already prohibited discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation on the basis of race, religion, gender and national origin.

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