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Atheists Face Discrimination And Persecution According To Report
December 10, 2012 at 7:49 AM

'Like lesser Americans': Atheists face discrimination, persecution, report says

GENEVA -- Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven countries can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued Monday.

The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that "unbelievers" in Islamic countries face the most severe -- sometimes brutal -- treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.

But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States that favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.

The report, "Freedom of Thought 2012," said "there are laws that deny atheists' right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry."

Other laws "obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents."

In the United States, for example, where freedom of religion and speech is protected, a social and political climate prevails "in which atheists and the non-religious are made to feel like lesser Americans, or non-Americans," the report said.

In at least seven U.S. states, constitutional provisions are in place that bar atheists from public office and one state, Arkansas, has a law that bars atheists from testifying as witnesses at trials, the report said.

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"It is often not the case that when people hear of freedom of religion they interpret that in terms of the non-religious too," Bob Churchill, a spokesperson for IHEU, told NBC News. "This report shows clearly how people who mildly criticize religion may go on to suffer months or years in jail, even awaiting a death sentence."

The report was welcomed by Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who said in a brief introduction there was little awareness that atheists were covered by global human rights agreements.

The IHEU -- which links more than 120 humanist, atheist and secular organizations in more than 40 countries -- said it was issuing the report to mark the U.N.'s Human Rights Day on Monday.

According to its survey of some 60 countries, the seven where expression of atheist views or defection from the official religion can bring capital punishment are Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Forced to lie
The 70-page report lists no recent cases of actual execution for "atheism" -- but researchers say the offence is often subsumed into other charges.

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In a range of other countries -- such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait and Jordan -- publication of atheist or humanist views on religion are totally banned or strictly limited under laws prohibiting "blasphemy."

In many of these countries, and others like Malaysia, citizens have to register as adherents of a small number officially-recognized religions -- which normally include no more than Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.

Atheists and humanists are thereby forced to lie to obtain their official documents without which it is impossible to go to university, receive medical treatment, travel abroad or drive.

In Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin and North America, countries which identify themselves as secular give privileges to or favor Christian churches in providing education and other public services, the IHEU said.

In Greece and Russia, the Orthodox Church is fiercely protected from criticism and is given pride of place on state occasions, while in Britain bishops of the Church of England have automatic seats in the upper house of parliament.


  • AllofFive19
    August 28, 2016 at 9:07 AM
    This site changes us all.

    Quoting Bookwormy: Wow, years ago I used to take this forum much more seriously & write my replies much more thoughtfully.


    Quoting Bookwormy: I sometimes feel like (I *know* this isn't true) the sole non-Christian person of faith, hanging with the athiests, fighting vehemently to protect the US Constitution. Actually, I see at least a Pagan or 3 join the fight. And I do sometimes see Christians here as well, fighting to protect the Establishment Clause. It seems odd that I definitely am a person of faith but I've ended up aligned with the athiests on this, sometimes against Jews even, because diverse displays doesn't always mean a lack of violation.

    But *none* of us, Jew or Gentile, faithful or athiest, majority or minority, should ever be OK with the discrimination described in this article, worldwide or here in the US. It is abhorant. It is wrong. Here in the US it clearly violates the US Constitution. And it disapoints me that at this time of year that anyone would argue otherwise.
  • candlegal
    August 29, 2016 at 3:15 PM
    Yeah, that's kind of what I thought. LOL

    Quoting Piskie: Research the groups yourself. The anti balaka, Christian terrorist group in the Central African Republic. The names are there.

    Quoting candlegal: And I really hope you can back that up

    Quoting Piskie: Christians are still murdering Muslims today. Central African Republic... Cannibalism even. 1,000 people a month.

    Ethnic cleansing of the kuki tribe in India. Murdered because they wouldn't convert from Hinduism.

    Lords resistance army. Uganda. Child slaves and soldiers. Too many victims to count.

    All Christian terrorist groups who murder in the name of your god....

    Quoting candlegal: Actually no, that would be the Muslims. They are still killing Christians today chopping off their heads and everything

    Quoting autodidact:

    that'd be on other christians. 

    Quoting candlegal:

    I wonder if as many athiests have been killed for their lack of religion as Christians have been for theirs?

    Quoting romalove:

    I thought I might put some perspective here for those who like to cry "persecution"....

  • Sarahsmall
    August 29, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    Let's keep things in perspective; MAN has been massively destructive to humanity. 

    Quoting candlegal:

    Really, how many Christian posts have you made about athiests,    SHAME on you.  Whatever.

    Quoting romalove:

    Quoting candlegal:

    I know what I meant and I meant what I said.

    Quoting Greenstone920:

    Don't you mean how many people Christians have killed?  Because Christians have killed more in the name of their religion than any other religion known to man.

    Quoting candlegal:

    I wonder if as many athiests have been killed for their lack of religion as Christians have been for theirs?

    Quoting romalove:

    I thought I might put some perspective here for those who like to cry "persecution"....

    The answer is religion in general has been massively destructive to humanity and has killed millions upon millions over time.

    The other answer is, there are thread after thread about how Christians are persecuted because instead of Merry Christmas they hear Happy Holidays and atheists wanting a place on the courthouse lawn alongside the Nativity is persecution.

    And you take this thread about atheist persecution and try to make it about Christians.

    Shame on you.

  • Thelmama
    August 29, 2016 at 3:48 PM

    I am a Christian, not ashamed to admit it. That being said, I do not believe anyone should be persecuted, killed, treated differently, stopped from participating in activities, taking office and everything that falls anywhere in between simply based on what they believe or do not believe.  

    As human beings, we should have an inalienable right to believe what we want to believe. In those rights we should treat all human kind with the respect and compassion that should be afforded to them.  I am not a better person simply because I am a Christian. I am not a lesser person simply because I am a Christian. The same idea goes for aeitheiestic beliefes, pagans, Islamics and the list goes on.

    We are all, first and foremost human beings.  We should be treated as such with the right to believe,feel, think and have our own ideas, beliefs and feelings.

    As long as that does not hurt another because we don't see it the way they do, why can't we live peacefully amongst one another.  I don't get why people are so bent on treating each other with disdain simply because they don't believe or think the same.  

    edited to fix some typos. carrying on a conversation with your children and typing at the same time does not always work out well. LOL

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