atheism a realigion ??

Just got done with a pm debate with a gentleman who considers himself a deist. One thing that came up in conversation, he says "In the United States the government classifies atheism a religion". Is this true? he certainly believes it.
Atheist Answer: 

No, it's not true, but I can see how the deist fellow might get that idea.

Laws against discrimination on the basis of religion extend to cover atheists. That's not because atheism is officially a religion, but because there are additional clauses in the laws to include those with no religion.

If atheism really were classified as a religion, atheist organisations could apply for the same tax exemptions as churches. As it is, the best they can do is get recognised as non-profit charities, like the secular Red Cross.

- SmartLX