U.S. Religious Freedom Commission: Atheism is Not a ‘Criminal Act’ December 17, 2012

U.S. Religious Freedom Commission: Atheism is Not a ‘Criminal Act’

Here’s a little good news in a dark and scary time.

My co-worker Michael De Dora, who runs CFI’s Office of Public Policy, came across this encouraging sign over the weekend. It’s from the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and it begins with the question:

Did You Know … that in the case of imprisoned Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan, the freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief also protects the right not to believe?

After the banging of heads all of us at CFI have done to get attention focused on Aan’s case, and now in the midst of our efforts to shine a spotlight on restrictions on free expression around the world (which includes CFI’s significant contribution to the new IHEU report on atheists’ persecution), this was a pleasant surprise to see — and straight from the body that advises the president and State Department on these matters, no less.

The big takeaway:

The holding of atheistic beliefs or their propagation should not be considered a criminal act. Atheism should be viewed as an expression of conscience by individuals who do not embrace theistic beliefs and should be protected by governments under the rights to the freedom of religion and expression.

Wow. A small thing, really, but just as it was rejuvenating to hear the president explicitly denounce blasphemy laws, man, it feels good to read something like that coming from my government.

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