Atheists and Non-Believers in U.S. Are Widely Viewed as “Lesser Americans,” Says Report

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
(photo: Diane Humble, Idaho Press Tribune, AP)

Those who don’t believe in God are often seen as less than those who do in the United States. But American atheists don’t have it nearly as bad as their non-believer counterparts in many countries.


A study from the International Humanist and Ethical Union found that despite legal protections for freedom of religion and speech, the U.S. maintains a social and political climate “in which atheists and the non-religious are made to feel like lesser Americans, or non-Americans.”


In seven states, atheists cannot run for public office, and in Arkansas, they can’t even testify as witnesses at trials, according to the report.


Outside the United States, religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination—or even death.


At least seven nations that operate under Islamic law have provisions for executing atheists. The seven are Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and the Maldives.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

'Like Lesser Americans': Atheists Face Discrimination, Persecution, Report Says (NBC News)

Atheists around World Suffer Persecution, Discrimination: Report (by Robert Evans, Reuters)

The Seven Countries Where the State Can Execute You for Being Atheist (by Max Fisher, Washington Post)

Freedom of Thought 2012: A Global Report on Discrimination against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious (International Humanist and Ethical Union) (pdf)

Atheists May Not Perform Marriage Ceremonies, Federal Judge Rules (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Insurance Company Settles Claim for Discriminating against Atheists (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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