Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Atheists Abandoned By European Union When It Comes To Human Rights

U.N. General Assembly Hall.
So the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a E.U. resolution "calling for an end to religious intolerance and violence and for all governments to observe freedom of religion and belief."  Non-binding, of course.

Ending religious intolerance sounds okay, I guess - although the UN should be standing up for human rights and not the rights of religions.  My tolerance levels for religion have been on the wane as of late. I certainly hope this isn't code for ending words and actions that offend people's religious sensitivities. You know, a big return to more blasphemy laws.

As for violence, I'm all for ending that.

As for promoting freedom of religion and belief.  Sure, people should be allowed to believe whatever they wish as long as it doesn't translate into doing harmful and illegal things in the name of their religion.  Note that I'm not talking about religion's freedom or belief's freedom because that would be just silly.  Religions do not have rights or freedoms, people do.  This is a human rights question, not a religious rights question.

So yes, I don't want people to get persecuted for their beliefs in or not in any religious creed.

So, with the rather dismal stories of persecution of atheists around the world, like Alexander Aan, how are non-believers protected?

But the campaigners, who had earlier given the council a report on abuse of atheists, mainly in Muslim countries, had sought a text making clear its injunctions included them. 
"The wording of this resolution shows how the world, even the secular West, ignores the plight of atheists and other non-believers in many countries," said Sonja Eggericks, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. 
"Many people who recognize no supernatural being are suffering and even dying for trying to exercise their right to hold and profess their views," she said in a statement sent to Reuters from Brussels. 
Elizabeth O'Casey of the U.S.-based Centre for Inquiry said the EU refusal to include a direct reference to non-believers as needing protection alongside religious minorities "fails many millions of people across the globe".
Well, we've seen this before with the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom and their refusal to have anything to do with atheists whatsoever.  You know, atheist who are likely to be even more mistrusted and despised by religious groups in many of these countries than other religious groups.  If there's anything that seems to bind together disparate religious views it seems to be a common fear, misunderstanding and mistrust of atheists.

But no wait, the EU representatives claim that, although the word atheist or non-believer is apparently not specifically mentioned anywhere in their resolution, it apparently still condemns "all forms of violence against, intolerance towards and discrimination of people on the basis of their religious or non-religious identity."

So why didn't the EU put the a-word into the agreement?  Well, they decided to let it drop so they could make a deal with the bloc of countries that have been rather actively pushing blasphemy laws lately.
Diplomats said the EU had omitted a specific reference to the need for protection for atheists, whose numbers are reported in recent surveys as growing strongly around the globe, in a deal with Islamic countries. 
Under that alleged deal, member states of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on the council would accept the EU resolution in return for EU approval of their own resolution condemning religious intolerance.

Well isn't that comforting?  It's nice to know the EU truly has our interests at heart.  And what was that part about Muslim countries again?
But the campaigners, who had earlier given the council a report on abuse of atheists, mainly in Muslim countries, had sought a text making clear its injunctions included them. 
Yes, that was it.  So explicit wording that would contribute to our safety was used as a bargaining chip.  Seems like we've been sold out for thirty pieces of silver.


  1. Perhaps a part the problems with protecting the rights of atheists is that a great many religious types can't seem to even grasp that they exist at all. You must have had that conversation with someone religious; You know, the "no you're wrong because god made the world..." conversation. At some point as you feel you're banging your head against armour plate, it suddenly dawns on you that your opponent just doesn't understand you really don't believe in a deity at all. Not "refuses to accept", but more like "doesn't believe such a thing is possible", because they just cannot put themselves in the position of imagining there is no creator beyond those forces so helpfully pointed out by science.

    The base assumption is that you MUST believe in something because they see tehir own unassailable belief as evidence, and indeed self-evident, even if they do accept you might differ over the exact format. At that point any further discussion is pretty pointless, because while I can step into their shoes and imagine knowing nothing and then trying to explain the universe, they can't, perhaps because they realise that to do so might make their belief less sure - a form of studied self-lobotomy.

    Monotheists are the most problematic/dogmatic, and the most fervent simply cannot imagine anything else, but Buddhists are easier, perhaps because cause and effect are common ground they share with atheists. Hindus can be even easier (depends on the flavour) as some extreme schools of Hinduism are little more than particularly philosophical atheism anyway - it's an extremely broad church.

    In at least one sense I agree with them; I become periodically incensed that atheism is even forced to exist - no religion, absolutely no neccessity to waste all that time and effort trying to rationalise it out of existence and insisting on the right to think independently. For much the same reason I rather resent Humanism, which chooses to stand as an alternative to religion by becoming a "thing" itself, a set of rather unecessarily codified principles that look like a religious methodone for those who can't quite break the habit.

    Perhaps that's why the EU capitulated so easily; it's a thankless uphill slog trying to argue for the right to think entirely for yourself with those who simply cannot imagine such a thing is possible.

    Great blog!!

  2. Thanks for this great comment, Mark! Sometimes I think Humanism is "codified" to act as a kind of shorthand rebuttal to those who accuse atheists of believing in nothing and having no ethics or anything "positive" to contribute. To counter a chart of "nihilism". But that's, of course, not the only reason for its existence...


Search This Blog