ONTD Political

Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination: report

9:52 pm - 12/09/2012
By Robert Evans

GENEVA | Sun Dec 9, 2012 9:20pm EST

(Reuters) - Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on 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 which 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."

The report was welcomed by Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations 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 over 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.

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

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 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.

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

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 an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial, the report said.

source
a_phoenixdragon 10th-Dec-2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Finally!! Someone sees it! I'm pagan (which is sometimes considered worse), but in light of being a more 'official' religion, I get less flack than my husband, who is an atheist.
i_amthecosmos 10th-Dec-2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
I had that experience at least with my family. My mom is a Souther Baptist, but she believed that I would go to heaven as long as I believed in something. When I tore down my Wiccan altar and became an atheist, well...it's best for me not to bring that up.
evilgmbethy 10th-Dec-2012 04:29 pm (UTC)
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 an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial, the report said.

damn, though I wonder how often these things are enforced. My guess is not much because that seems ridiculously unconstitutional.
thistlerose 10th-Dec-2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
They were ruled unconstitutional in 1961 (Torcaso v. Watkins) (sorry about the Wikipedia link). But they're still there in the state constitutions, which rankles.
anolinde 10th-Dec-2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
Right? I wonder how they feel about agnostics and apatheists...
wrestlingdog 10th-Dec-2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
MTE
bestdaywelived 11th-Dec-2012 03:34 pm (UTC)
It doesn't have any legal basis because it's a violation of the First Amendment, but it's in there now because these states want to show that they hate atheists.
cherrylng 10th-Dec-2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
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.

Hmm... I can't really remember if I had to write down on what religion I'm associated with because I've been back in Malaysia for only about a couple of months, but I certainly might remember some forms asking for it. Most of the time, I just write down 'Buddhism'. But I'm half Buddhist/Atheist, with no problems with it so far.
lux_roark 10th-Dec-2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
I haven't told my family I'm an Atheist because I worry about how they'll treat me once they find out. They already treat me like shit, so I'd hate to get treated even more like shit by them.
poetic_pixie_13 10th-Dec-2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Blargh, that sucks, bb. <3

Regardless of what you decide, there's no excuse for anyone treating you like that, but especially family. I hope things work out. <3

redstar826 10th-Dec-2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
yeah. If I want to get into brawls with my family, they have enough ammo as is. I don't feel like giving them anymore (same reason why my extended family will hopefully not find out that I'm gay until I've moved far away from here)
yndigot 11th-Dec-2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
My family knows that I've stopped going to church, but I'm sure as hell not telling them I'm an atheist. Because my degree is in (secular) biblical scholarship, they tend to think I've taken the 'private study rather than community worship' path and I'm just not inclined to correct them.
glass_houses 12th-Dec-2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
I told my parents when I was 13 but my mom forced me to get confirmed anyway. I was so angry!
poetic_pixie_13 10th-Dec-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
Saw the post title and couldn't decide if I wanted to



or



I've decided to wait for the white atheists, tbqh.

maynardsong 10th-Dec-2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
MTE
tabaqui 10th-Dec-2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
If you execute people for 'not believing', that really says a lot about how shaky your own beliefs are, in my opinion.
astridmyrna 11th-Dec-2012 05:29 am (UTC)
IKR?

ETA: And to have more power over people too, I'd argue.

Edited at 2012-12-11 05:33 am (UTC)
asrana 11th-Dec-2012 08:35 am (UTC)
But the strength of my belief is dependent on the strength of YOUR belief! Because... uh... Because...

Because otherwise how can we keep everyone in line doing what we tell them to?
vulturoso 10th-Dec-2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
So tired of this shit. Why can't people keep their damn beliefs to themselves? Why does religion have to be a public thing? Notice how no atheists are coming after YOUR religion? How we're not starting wars or executing masses of people over a belief system you have no control over?

For fucks sake. Argh.

Edited for sentence fail.

Edited at 2012-12-10 07:37 pm (UTC)
yeats 11th-Dec-2012 12:16 am (UTC)
state-sponsored atheism (as opposed to religious neutrality) has the potential to be just as dangerous as state-sponsored religion. i agree that religion shouldn't be an official thing, but i think that there is room for people to celebrate their faith in public.

my point is by no means an attempt to dismiss the horrible shit in this post, however.
boogans 11th-Dec-2012 04:38 am (UTC)
I am more scared of coming out as an atheist to my family than I am as queer and transgender. And the thought of coming out as queer and trans gives me nightmares and panic attacks.

Communities that are built heavily on faith are scary places to be if you're not of that faith.
the_physicist 11th-Dec-2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Sorry to hear that :(
astridmyrna 11th-Dec-2012 05:32 am (UTC)
This is horrifying.
the_physicist 11th-Dec-2012 09:08 am (UTC)
Sadly completely unsurprising, considering other laws in those countries. That doesn't make it right at all of course. Rights for atheists is tied up with those countries enacting stronger laws for many human rights.
maynardsong 11th-Dec-2012 11:19 am (UTC)
Last sentence is very true
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