U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Once Again Champions the Rights of Atheists

In December, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) posted on its website an encouraging call for the decriminalization of atheism in countries where nonbelievers suffer persecution, and I blogged about it here. Happily, the commission has one-upped itself.

This past Sunday, the Richmond Times ran an op-ed by USCIRF’s Katrina Lantos Swett and M. Zuhdi Jasser explicitly holding up the protection of atheists’ rights as a cause equal with the protection of other human rights. Citing the persecution and convictions of Alexander Aan in Indonesia and Alber Saber in Egypt, they write (emphasis mine):

Both of these cases underscore how states that persecute atheists violate not only freedom of religion or belief, but other precious freedoms, including freedom of expression. They remind us that, in the end, freedom is indivisible. There is no bright line that can be readily drawn in the sand to separate them.

The implication is clear. Those who stand unequivocally for other freedoms, including freedoms of speech and press, association and assembly, also must support religious freedom, just as those who stand for the right of believers to follow their conscience must do the same for nonbelievers.

Considering the lack of acknowledgement of atheists in President Obama‘s inaugural address (as opposed to his first), seeing this piece this morning is a breath of fresh air.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • GodlessPoutine

    If only the such a commission existed in Canada…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=574401415 Denis Freeland

    Obama not only ignored atheists, but his five references to the Christian God, alienated half the country. Only Reagan has mentioned god more often than Obama in inauguration speeches. Non christians STILL have a LONG way to go in America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jerome-McCollom/100000327150215 Jerome McCollom

    Sadly, there might be letters to the editor in Richmond by people arguing that it is perfectly ok for atheists to be persecuted overseas and that it is no big deal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/allan.rader Allan Rader

    if atheist hate religion so much can anybody explain to me why its only Christianity and no other religion? islam is being ushered into the States and our kids from grade school to colleges are being indoctrinated into it and atheist say nothing about it; only if it has anything to do with Christianity. in my opinion if you only attack one thing that makes you a hate group. another thing, why does it both you so much? if you don’t believe in anything, then aren’t you supposed to be indifferent? you don’t seem indifferent to me if you’re raging a war against Christianity. why do you all act like see or hearing anything Christian is like Holy Water splashed on devil spawn? and why are you so hell bent on ending something that has proven to be more positive and uplifting then it ever was negative, so therefore better to have then not? its been shown time and again in communist/socialist countries that the loss of religion killed it, not made it. is that you ultimate goal, the ending of America?

    • Dezzydez

      First off atheists do not hate religion, some do, some do not. Christianity is the religion held majorly in this country and most atheists are more familiar with christianity than Islam. Secondly we fight for the separation of church and state. Christianity should not get special treatment from the government, nor should atheism. Government should remain neutral in regards to religion. Everything else about your conspiracy theory about Islam is just crazy. There is no indoctrination going on in schools. Acknowledging that other people believe differently than you is not indoctrination. If christianity works for your life, that’s fine. Others do not want to be forced to live by the doctrines of your religion, nor should we be forced by law.