President Barack Obama has now signed a law that would expand the “freedom of thought” to include non-theists.
The bill, Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 1150), states in part:
“…Freedom of thought and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.”
Putting atheists/non-theists in a protected class will help protect them from persecution. They are especially vulnerable with the incoming President-elect Donald Trump. Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, are not friendly towards people who are not Christian.
The American Humanist Association put out a press release in which Roy Speckhardt, their executive director said:
“Legislators are finally recognizing the human dignity of humanists and granting the nontheistic community the same protections and respect that have been given to religious communities.”
“That non-theists are now recognized as a protected class is a significant step toward full acceptance and inclusion for non-religious individuals, who are still far too often stigmatized and persecuted around the world.”
Many countries still persecute people who are not religious. This bill was proposed following the murder of American secular blogger, Avijit Roy, in Bangladesh.
Roy quoted Albert Einstein in a famous post on his website, Mukto Mona:
“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.”
Hopefully, this bill will help protect the lives of other non-theists. We should be able to speak our minds in any country. This violence against the secular community needs to stop.
However, there is a downside. The same bill also includes protections for people who practice ritualistic animal slaughter and those who practice circumcision. This puts a damper on any celebration of the bill. As much as I want non-theists protected, I don’t like that the government will condone these barbaric practices.
Here is President Obama talking about atheists with Bill Maher:
Featured image by Terry Johnston via Flickr, available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.