Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: December 10th, 2012
Are atheists persecuted around the world?

When it comes to freedom of religion, atheists don’t make the grade, for the obvious reason: they don’t have a religion. But does that mean that they should be persecuted?

But, according to Reuters, a recently released study by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), “unbelievers” suffer some of the most severe and brutal persecution, especially in Islamic countries. There are seven countries–AfghanistanIran, Maldives, Mauritania, PakistanSaudi Arabia and Sudan–where atheists can be executed.

But don’t think that the U.S. is any bastion of virtue when it comes to treatment of the nonbeliever.

The Freedom of Thought 2012 report points out laws and policies in the U.S. “which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.” The report sites “least seven U.S. states, where 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 is being released today, U.N.’s Human Rights Day, to spotlight those groups who normally are not considered in the global discussion of human rights.

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One comment on “Are atheists persecuted around the world?

  1. As to the nations mentioned – seeing that the peaceful religion of Islam is rampant, it doesn’t surprise me how they treat atheists (or even those of other faiths). History is chock full of instances of how the faithful treat those that do not adhere to the religion du jure.

    As to the US – the laws discriminating against athiests probably have probably never been, in recent memory, availed of use. However, laws favoring the religious are replete, from tax exemption to actual defenses against murder (i.e., faith healing defense).

    There exists a simple way to eradicate such discrimination and persecution.

    If the religious, whatever faith they may be, would just empirically prove their god(s) exist(s), such that there can be no rational contradiction to said assertion – well, by definition, atheists, agnostics and those of differing faiths cease to exist. After all, if concrete proof of some god exists, one cannot claim to the contrary and poof * there go the atheists, etc.

    However, seeing that it’s been several thousand years and not one whit of concrete evidence has even been proffered, it would appear that the persecution and discrimination of nonbelievers will continue by the adherents of some loving and peaceful religion.

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