Last week during the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, when statements were allowed on a special report on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the representative from Denmark agreed with the report that anti-blasphemy laws needed to be repealed but her government elected to leave an anti-blasphemy clause in its penal code. The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was not amused.
As a Humanist, in a generally liberal western nation, the most I ever have to worry about is being called names, smeared as un-patriotic, or being blamed for the ‘ills of the nation’ like abortion and same-sex marriage. It usually is a war of words or debates in comment sections of websites or newspapers. What if the abuse got physical. Would I risk my life for my principles? Would you?
50 years ago, several hundred protesters wanting voting rights for African-Americans and an end to racial discrimination, were attacked in Selma, Alabama by state and local police.
Protesters attacked during the Selma to Montgomery march for civil rights March 1965
Dr. Avijit Roy, murdered freethought blogger
Dr. Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born U.S. citizen from the Atlanta area, was murdered Friday while on a visit to his home country. The murderers justified their actions through their Islamic religion. It’s unfathomable to think, here in the US, that someone could be murdered for their religious dissent but it happens too much in places like Bangladesh. The best way to deal with people who want to murder others because they don’t have the same beliefs is more speech and more dissent.
Raif Badawi is being lashed in Saudi Arabia for writing about being an atheist
On January 30th, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the European Humanist Federation (EHF) announced a new project to help abolish blasphemy laws around the world. In many parts of the world, any criticism of religion can lead to a prison sentence or worse. The End Blasphemy Laws campaign has a lofty goal to reach.
A new book titled ‘Atheist Heart, Humanist Mind‘ by Lex Bayer and John Figdor, included a set of 10 ‘non-commandments’ for the non-believer. The authors also held a contest to crowdsource an alternative set. I was pleased that I agreed with a majority of the items judged the winner. They are good guidelines for living as a Humanist.
The Gnat of Religious Apologetics
One of the constant gnats of contention in the Humanist movement is the a struggle between people who want to have a complete, clean break from religion and those who complain about humanists mocking or ridiculing religion. In a recent blog post, PZ Myers makes some excellent points why secular humanism is not just a replacement for religion.