You may have heard about how Coptic Christian churches have been under attack in Egypt — just read the lede in this Wall Street Journal article:
Osama Makram Amin woke to the sound of gunfire, looked out his window and saw what he says were young men throwing gasoline bombs at the nearby Coptic Christian church.
Awful stuff. Seriously awful.
The Center For Inquiry has issued a statement condemning the religion-based violence:
In response to the July 3 coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi from power, Islamists, including some who support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, have carried out attacks on Christian houses of worship, as well as homes and shops owned by Christians. The violence has swollen to the point that Sunday Mass had to be canceled in the city of Minya for the first time in 1,600 years.
The Egyptian military, which now controls the country, has also reportedly arrested or killed large numbers of Muslims affiliated with the Morsi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“As an organization dedicated to secular humanist values, we unequivocally condemn the persecution and violence being directed at Christians in Egypt. Similarly, to the extent the military is targeting some Muslim Egyptians because of their religious beliefs, we condemn its actions,” said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “No person should be targeted for violence because of his or her religious affiliation. As atheists and humanists, though we may disagree strongly with the beliefs of other groups, we wholeheartedly reject oppression and violence carried out against those who hold those beliefs. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right.”
I realize those are just words, but no other atheist/Humanist group that I know of has issued a similar statement.
We fight for out right to believe what we want, especially in countries where voicing a dissenting opinion is heresy. We ought to defend people of other faiths when they’re fighting the same battle. This is a no-brainer. Good for Ron Lindsay and CFI for saying something they could just as easily have ignored.
By the way, these aren’t completely empty statements. They’re backed by action:
CFI is currently working with officials at both the U.S. State Department and United Nations to help ensure that the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression are enjoyed by all persons in Egypt, and elsewhere.
I’ll be glad to update this post with similar statements from other non-theistic groups, but if you don’t see those updates, it’s because those releases aren’t coming in. Yes, time and resources are always stretched thin, I know, but this is an important issue and we ought to be among the leading voices condemning a real assault on religious freedom.
***Update***: The Centre for Inquiry Canada has also condemned the attacks on Coptic Christians:
CFI Canada calls on Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom to work with CFI Canada to oppose violations of freedom of religion, denounce violence against human-rights defenders and condemn attacks on the religious and non-religious in Egypt and around the world.
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