The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has just released a 540-page report on the rights of non-religious people around the world. And the outlook is as depressing as you might suspect. Just look at all the countries guilty of “Severe” or “Grave” violations of freedom of thought (in red and black, respectively):
IHEU President Andrew Copson writes in the introduction:
In the past twelve months, the world has witnessed numerous horrific attacks and legal penalties specifically aimed at people accused of “insulting religion”. From Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the shooting at a free speech seminar in Copenhagen that followed, to the humanist bloggers murdered in Bangladesh; from alleged “blasphemers” crucified under ISIS or jailed by sovereign states, to alleged “apostates” sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia and Mauritania.
Despite the overall trend toward more severe violence and legal penalties, we do record a few improvements this year. In May and July 2015 respectively, Norway and Iceland abolished their extant “blasphemy” laws (although in Norway there are fresh concerns about regressive education reforms, a reminder that countries can make progress in some areas while slipping in others).
So there’s some room for optimism, though not much.
The extensive report is grouped by country for anyone who’s up for some very upsetting reading.
“True religious freedom is the freedom to believe and not believe,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The sobering findings of this report should move our elected leaders to stand up for religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world.”
A copy of this needs to be handed to every member of Congress.