First Ever Report on The Rights and Treatment of Atheists from around the World

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The Freedom of Thought report is published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the worldwide umbrella of Humanist, atheist, secular and similar organisations.

 

In 2012 the report covered 60 countries, and we knew that until the report had truly global scope we were omitting many serious problems faced by the non-religious. So we worked extremely hard to expand the 2013 report and it now include every country on the planet, as well as a rating system to assess the status of the country.

The inaugural report in 2012 grew out of work by several IHEU Member Organisations (see “History of the report” below) and IHEU asks its Members, experts and other relevant parties to make submissions for the report throughout the year.

What are your thoughts?  Is there anything that stands out to you?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Get the report.  See the interactive map.

 

 

 

Written By: International Humanist and Ethical Union
continue to source article at freethoughtreport.com

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’m afraid this map is pretty misleading.

    It lists New Zealand as “severe discrimination” and states that people are sent to prison for blasphemy. I have lived here all my life and have never heard of such a case. If it ever did happen I’m pretty sure it would be front page news and trigger large demonstrations (in which I would participate).

    In the “report” it clears things up a bit where it says about New Zealand…

    “…a Religious Libel law remains on the statute books: Section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 criminalizes “blasphemous libel” with a maximum sentence of one year. There is no record of a successful prosecution under this law…”

    Hardly severe discrimination.

    The same report also chides New Zealand for having a religious symbol on its national flag. The symbol they refer to is the “Southern Cross” an astronomical constellation that is unique to the southern hemisphere and was used by ancient navigators to indicate the direction of south. I am rather pleased that our flag contains a nod to astronomy and would resist its removal.

    • In reply to #1 by NuovaZeta:

      IThe same report also chides New Zealand for having a religious symbol on its national flag. The symbol they refer to is the “Southern Cross” an astronomical constellation that is unique to the southern hemisphere and was used by ancient navigators to indicate the direction of south. I am rather pleased that our flag contains a nod to astronomy and would resist its removal.

      Australia does as well but that doesn’t get mentioned!

      Michael

    • In reply to #1 by NuovaZeta:

      I’m afraid this map is pretty misleading.

      It lists New Zealand as “severe discrimination” and states that people are sent to prison for blasphemy. I have lived here all my life and have never heard of such a case. If it ever did happen I’m pretty sure it would be front page news and trigger large d…

      Agreed, I also live in NZ and had no idea I was being “Severely” discriminated against. I think in an effort to be global they were forced to also be quite superficial and perhaps overly legalistic. USA gets a “Mostly Satisfactory” even though I hear much more about all kinds of religiously based discrimination there. But they have laws about it, therefore they must not really be seeing discrimination.

      • Yes, I have to say that I have very little faith in the report because of its misleading designation for NZ. This is a very free country and politicians can say openly that they are atheists with no problem at all. For the last 14 years we’ve had Prime Ministers who have expressed their lack of faith openly. The blasphemy law is an anomaly and should be taken off the law books. There has not been a single conviction and as far as I’m aware only one prosecution in 1919. Most New Zealanders are completely unaware of such a law. It’s a tolerant country.

        In reply to #4 by Scepticon:

        In reply to #1 by NuovaZeta:

        I’m afraid this map is pretty misleading.

        It lists New Zealand as “severe discrimination” and states that people are sent to prison for blasphemy. I have lived here all my life and have never heard of such a case. If it ever did happen I’m pretty sure it would be front…

    • In reply to #1 by NuovaZeta:

      It lists New Zealand as “severe discrimination” and states that people are sent to prison for blasphemy. I have lived here all my life and have never heard of such a case. If it ever did happen I’m pretty sure it would be front page news and trigger large demonstrations (in which I would participate).

      In the “report” it clears things up a bit where it says about New Zealand…

      “…a Religious Libel law remains on the statute books: Section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 criminalizes “blasphemous libel” with a maximum sentence of one year. There is no record of a successful prosecution under this law…”

      Hardly severe discrimination.

      Firstly, the mere existence of any such draconian legislation in itself constitutes discrimination, and the prescribed imposition of a custodial penalty makes it severe. By definition, this remains the case whether or not the law and attendant penalties are applied. The same situation applied in the UK until the mid-twentieth century, where a conviction for just being an atheist could warrant capital punishment. Although this penalty had not been applied since the seventeenth century, its existence in law meant that it could conceivably be applied at any time without redress by a particularly hostile judge, other than by appeals for leniency or mitigation to a higher court – without any guarantee of succeeding. If a hardline theocratically based regime were ever to be installed, such is currently the case in many countries, it is easy to imagine that maximum penalties under such an archaic law might readily be applied. It is therefore our duty to fight against all such instances of statutory discrimination.

      The same report also chides New Zealand for having a religious symbol on its national flag. The symbol they refer to is the “Southern Cross” an astronomical constellation that is unique to the southern hemisphere and was used by ancient navigators to indicate the direction of south. I am rather pleased that our flag contains a nod to astronomy and would resist its removal.

      On this point I agree entirely, although with the rather petty qualification that Crux can be seen readily enough in lower Northern latitudes. However, giving your remark some thought, and as an Aussie with astronomical leanings, I am somewhat inclined to agitate for a renaming of the constellation to the “Southern Kite” or some such similar, so as to avoid any such confusion with religious symbology.

      • In reply to #9 by BareBunz:

        In reply to #1 by NuovaZeta:

        It lists New Zealand as “severe discrimination” and states that people are sent to prison for blasphemy. I have lived here all my life and have never heard of such a case. If it ever did happen I’m pretty sure it would be front page news and trigger large demonstrations…

        On the other hand, were a “hardline theocratically based regime were ever to be installed” they would probably go about creating their own draconian laws if they did not exist. So one can quite reasonably argue that the important thing is the atmosphere in practice, not in some hypothetical (and pretty unreasonable given current numbers of non-religious in NZ) future.

  2. So Britain is a worse place to live than America, if you’re an atheist? I get that the UK has CoE bishops in the House of Lords… But does that make the House of Lords more religiously influenced than the US Senate or Congress? That doesn’t sound right to me.

    Good idea behind the report, but I’m not sure it achieves what it sets out to do.

  3. As a Uk atheist I have to agree with this pole, nobody laughs at me for believing in fairy tales like they do at our religious bretheren, i demand this systematic discrimination stops immediately. We atheist have just as much right to be mocked as the next man.
    Seriously where do they get these stats.

  4. This map isn’t reliable to me. Adding to the comments above, it says Portugal has systemic discrimination but that’s far from the truth. I’m Portuguese, atheist, lived here all my life and I see no signs of systemic discrimination whatsoever. I can assume my atheism anywhere and I do not expect any kind of problem arising from it. Actually, I believe Portugal is a very tolerant country towards atheism.

  5. Brazil is at “most satisfactory”? I only wish! Yes, our constitution guarantees freedom of religion and a secular state. Unfortunately, our constitution is largely ignored – as you would expect from an extremely corrupt country. Neo-pentecostal preachers gain more and more political power by the day. We recently had preacher politicians trying to legalize “gay cure”. The head of the Human Rights Commission is a homophobic preacher who openly attacks gays and members of african-brazilian religions.
    Not to mention the social prejudice against non-believers. A recent poll shows that over 90% of Brazilians think that believing in God makes you a better person!

  6. This report seems to give ‘legal status’ a heavy weighting, so the liberal UK with our tame clerics is mildly oppressive, while the bible thumping US is considered o.k. That’s not my experience at all.

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