Atheists: the new persecuted minority, international report concludes (COMMENTARY)

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The World Humanist Congress meets in Oxford, U.K., on Sunday (Aug. 10, 2014). Religion News Service photo by Brian Pellot

The World Humanist Congress meets in Oxford, U.K., on Sunday (Aug. 10, 2014). Religion News Service photo by Brian Pellot

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(RNS) The report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union demonstrates a shift away from viewing atheists, humanists and secular liberals as merely apostates.

  • E.H.

    One needn’t go so far afield as Egypt or Saudi Arabia to find atheist bashing. Look at some of the comments on other articles right here on this website. “Evil”, “Godless”, “immoral”, the slurs against atheists go on and on. It’s tiresome and all too predictable.

  • XaurreauX

    We are, indeed, a threat to the religious majority. We challenge the faith they would like to believe they have.

  • look out! atheist!

    Bashing yes, but slurs aren’t the same as legal oppression. One can of course find examples of legal oppression here too, and that’s the proper comparison.

    Slurs are annoying, especially when they’re based on ignorance (pretty sure I’m not evil). I believe in people’s rights to say what they want (to an extreme, really).

  • look out! atheist!

    I’m glad RN is posting this point of view. It’s an issue of religious freedom. Freedom of religion includes the freedom not to be religious.

    Religious freedom – for everyone – is one of the pillars of secularism.

  • AtheistFella

    It’s been said many times before; It’s kind of odd to have a name for the ‘lack’ of a particular belief. There are no A-Leprechaun-ists or A-Thor-ists. I expect that if these beliefs were as common as mainstream religious beliefs, then these distinct groups would be named.
    Atheists reject the claims of the religious, it’s that simple. It therefore naturally follows that atheists will criticize religious ideas. Religious folks generally have an emotional attachment to their beliefs, which often means that a vitriolic response towards atheist criticism follows. To an atheist, a response of this nature speaks volumes about the irrational and emotional appeal of religion. This is why there is an attempt to demonize; Atheists, and A-Leprechaun-ists or A-Thor-ists too, if the latter were more prevalent!

  • John Parsons

    “It therefore naturally follows that atheists will criticize religious ideas”

    Sorry just I just don’t hold with this. I am perfectly happy with my atheism and really am happy for the religious to have their own ideas. I may laugh to myself but do not feel the need to criticize their ideas.

  • Troy


    I understand and appreciate where you are coming from. I criticize their ideas when they are trying to legislate based on their belief, or when things like children dying from faith healing, or killing or causing destruction in the name of their deity.

    I have plenty of friends that are religious and am happy for them. I also understand some need it to function in life. However, I am that reminder that their ideology is not so perfect, when they bash me, or try to ram their religion down my throat.


  • It isn’t simply a matter of slurs and intolerance. It is a matter of ostracism from employment, social , and political participation, and physical violence.

    It is suppression of free speech such as the vandalism of atheist posters and displays. If someone did the same with a christian display, there would be whining, complaining, and shouts of “persecution!”

    There is nothing too illegal, immoral, disgusting, untrue, absurd, or stupid that the religious reich will not do or say it to attempt to force their beliefs upon all others.

    Most of the problems of the world have been caused by religion. Think of the crusades, the inquisition, the dark ages, the witch burnings, the restrictions on learning, free speech, instilling guilt and shame into children, and the wars fought in the name of religion.

    More recently, think of family planning clinic bombings, oppression of gays and non-believers, murders of doctors and homosexuals, imposition of religious beliefs by force of law, and illegal use of public funds to promote particular religions.

    Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.