URGENT: Tell Your U.S. Representative to Speak Up for Persecuted Nonbelievers
September 17, 2013
The House is scheduled to vote this afternoon on a bill to create a special envoy within the State Department to promote the religious freedom of minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia, including countries such as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy lobbied sponsors of this bill for at least one of two changes:
- Additional language to specify that the term "religious minorities" includes non-religious persons (atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics).
- Additional language alongside the several instances of persecution against other religious minorities (Christians, Muslims, Jews, Bahais) detailing cases of persecution against non-religious persons.
Yet this language has not been added.
International law makes clear that the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression include the right to disbelieve in religions, and to criticize their claims. Unfortunately, around the world innocent people are socially or legally punished — jailed, fined, forced to seek asylum — simply for changing, leaving, or examining religions.
We urge you to remind the House that non-religious persons should be included in religious freedom work performed by the U.S. government.