The Bible Belt Doesn’t Look So Bad…

Scary news coming out of Indonesia:

An Indonesian man who said that God did not exist in a posting on a Facebook page for atheists could face jail.

Civil servant Alexander Aan, 31, is now in protective police custody after he was attacked by an angry mob earlier this week.

He may also lose his job over his posting on the social networking site.

The Facebook group, which is still up and running, is called Ateis Minang (Minang Atheists). Aan’s words have been removed from the site as far as I can tell.

Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia and Aan could face up to five years of jail for what he did… unless he repents and accepts one of the six “acceptable” Indonesian religions.

This is religious fundamentalism to the extreme: They can’t even handle an atheist saying to a group of other atheists that god doesn’t exist. Where are the religious moderates and the politicians during all of this? I haven’t heard any defense of Aan from any of them. You wonder why atrocities like these happen? Just look to all the people who have the power to create change but remain silent.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki Joe Zamecki

    Good point Hemant. I think we need to speak up for the rights of our people everywhere. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

    Seriously, who was this guy hurting!?

  • http://twitter.com/ThyGoddess Michelle

    Unacceptable. And frightening. I love living in Canada.

  • Taxihorn

    As we look, “the people who have the power to create change but remain silent” should be somehow encouraged to look at themselves. Ugh.

  • Jake

    Guess Oklahoma is so bad after all

  • Anonymous
    • Erik Cameron

      Don’t we already have blasphemy rights day in Sept?

  • Ricklongworth

    More reason to appreciate Jessica Ahlquist for helping to prevent slippage here in the States.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000391368967 Liyan Chen

    I don’t expect any display of righteousness from Indonesian politicians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roccim Marlo Rocci

    Christians often ask me “what religion would you pick if you HAD to pick a religion?”  Here is your answer.  I would be beaten and jailed.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Yep, the U.S. isn’t Indonesia, and it isn’t Sweden either. It’s somewhere in between, and it could go in either direction.  Right now, it looks like it’s going in both directions, tearing itself apart. I’ve lived through the divisive 1950′s and the even more divisive 1960′s, but never have I seen this country as divided as we are now.

    It reminds me of how the Chinese express the concept of “crisis” with two words, wei, and ji, meaning “danger” and “opportunity.” This moment in history is both scary exciting. I’m glad I’m here to help work for the positive opportunity.

    • rhodent

      It is not true that the Chinese word for “crisis” is made of the Chinese words for “danger” and opportunity”.  In fact, the Chinese words for “danger” is not “wēi” but “wēixiăn”, and the Chinese word for “opportunity” is “jīhuì”.  Victor Mair explains this a lot better than I can at http://pinyin.info/chinese/crisis.html, but in a nutshell the claim here is roughly equivalent to saying that the English word “lamppost” comes from the English words “lampshade” and “poster”.

  • Pseudonym

    Where are the religious moderates and the politicians during all of this?

    Given that this is breaking news, I’m betting on “not yet translated into English”.
    So far, the only solicited soundbites from the English-language news sources have been from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), a government institution, who have lept to defend him and condemn the police, the MIU, and any official who takes the MIU seriously. But they haven’t even had a chance to put out an official statement. I know, because I checked their web site. I knew those two years of Bahasa Indonesia at school would come in handy some day.

  • Maddy

    “…inside my sandwich. Ha ha ha. Just kidding guys!”

    Repent. Migrate. Uncross fingers.

    Look, Indonesia has a lot of islands. Surely the people on one of them can set it up as a renegade, religion-free spot? Call it the Garden of EviDENce. 

  • scubachick

    As an atheist foreigner living in Indonesia, this is in no way surprising. I had to declare my mother’s religion on a form to get a bank account, with no way to opt out.  
    Having a conversation about religion here is like having a conversation about the weather, and ALWAYS with the assumption that you must be SOME religion. Acknowledging atheism short-circuits wiring in the brain for most people here

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003293001320 Diana Winters

    The Bible Belt is still bad.

  • Hebrews

    come to think  of it, it is a lot safer to have atheists than a Muslims. i hope mr Alexander Ann is not coerced into planting bombs in churches. it’s rather sad Muslims have such power in some parts of the world to make Muslims out of anyone by force.


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