The Center for Inquiry released a statement on Monday reacting to several brutal acts of violence, including the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by ISIS, the gunman who opened fire at a free speech rally in Copenhagen, Denmark and the killing of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
Yet again, we find ourselves faced with more instances of terroristic violence as a response to free speech and religion. Just weeks after journalists and cartoonists were murdered in Paris for criticism of religion, there are killings in Copenhagen and gruesome executions in Libya.
Both recent acts were motivated by a desire to silence others—merely because they believe and speak in ways disagreeable to their executioners. These murders strike at the heart of what we at the Center for Inquiry stand for, namely freedom of conscience and freedom of expression.
It is a deeply troubling commentary that so much blood is being shed because a tiny minority of extremists has decided that they cannot countenance having their ideas challenged in any form, be it in writing, in sketches, or even in the very existence of people who simply believe differently. To resort to violence and murder is to declare oneself incapable of rising to that challenge. It is a confession of the weakness of one’s position that it must be defended with bullets instead of words.
In noting these horrific events on foreign soil, we are not ignoring the recent tragedy in Chapel Hill. Although the exact motivations for the murder of the three young Muslims remains unclear, it is difficult to believe that anti-Muslim animosity did not play some role. But whatever the motivation of the killer, his actions must be condemned.
The recent spate of murders can be disheartening. It can make one wonder whether humanity is progressing or regressing. At the Center for Inquiry, however, it has redoubled our resolve. We will, as we always have, remain steadfast in our pursuit of the right to free expression and belief for all, whether or not we agree with those beliefs. We will continue to champion the right to satire, blasphemy, and all manner of peaceful criticism of religion and other sacredly held ideas. Similarly, we will continue to champion the right to peaceful expression of religion. We will continue to work toward a world in which atheists, humanists, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of whatever belief can live together in peace.