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Government publishes report on Christian persecution

Humanists UK has welcomed many of the recommendations of the Foreign Office’s report on Christian persecution released today but has emphasised the need for the Government to ensure all its work is as inclusive of the non-religious as it is of the religious. It renewed its call for the Government to investigate the global persecution of the non-religious who are similarly targeted for their beliefs.

While the report, primarily written by the Bishop of Truro, focuses on the persecution faced by Christians worldwide, it also acknowledges that humanists are at severe risk. It says: ‘In many places in the world it is certainly not safe to admit that you are an atheist.’ Humanists UK previously called for the review to be widened to equally focus on other persecuted groups.

Many of the report’s recommendations are couched in terms of freedom of religion or belief for all, including the non-religious. However some are phrased in language exclusive to the religious.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:

‘We welcome the Bishop’s report in highlighting the need to combat persecution of religious minorities and humanists across the globe, and many of the sensible recommendations it makes will help the UK in achieving this goal.

‘However, it is vital that the UK equally upholds the freedom of religion or belief of all. The non-religious are the most viciously persecuted group around the globe. As the UK is one of the most non-religious countries, we therefore urge the Government to ensure all its work is equally inclusive of the non-religious as it is of the religious, and to commission a similar review to this one into non-religious persecution.’

According to Humanists International’s Freedom of Thought Report, 30 countries have some form of the most serious or brutal persecution against the non-religious, up to and including the death penalty. A further 56 have serious social or legal discrimination, such as forcing the non-religious to comply with ‘family law’ as controlled by religion.

Threats to the freedom of the non-religious come from a wide range of sources, from individuals and groups wishing to censure freedom of thought, or criticism particularly of religion, through to powerful nations seeking to outlaw and criminalise any perceived negative discussion or criticism or portrayal of religion, or simply being non-religious at all.

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For more information contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3078.

Read our previous news item calling for the Christian persecution review to be widened to include the non-religious.

Read more about our international campaigns.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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