News in History: Persecution and Discrimination Against Atheists, Still Relevant

by | November 11, 2017


According to Reuters, circa 2012, those who lack formal religion, atheists, or the unbelievers, face bias (Evans, 2012). The bias can manifest in discrimination to outright persecution of atheists.

Those atheists in Islamic countries, apparently, face the most brutal treatment by both the government as well as adherents of Islam.

The report, also, points to the discrimination in many European countries as well as the United States, which are in direct favor of the religious and against atheists. The report is called the Freedom of Thought Report (IHEU, 2016).

Atheists can be denied rights of existence, restrictions on their freedom to believe and express themselves, have the ability to lose their citizenship, even have the possibility for restriction or elimination of their ability to marry.

In a brief introduction by the UN special rapporteur here on the freedom of religion and belief at the time, they noted that atheists have global human rights covered by various agreements, but the knowledge of or the awareness of them was highly limited.

Based on the survey at the time, there were seven countries out of 60 where the expression of atheist views or leaving the official religion of the state are given the capital punishment.

Even if an individual citizen does not want to adhere to one of the formal religions of the state, they are forced to have to take on the veneer of belief in one of the official state or stated religions of the government by signing off on one of them.

This can typically include only Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In other words, non-believers must live dual lives. Public lives of saving faith. Private lives of truly being non-religious.

The report goes into further depth (and has been updated) as to the ways in which the prejudice and bias and discrimination and persecution of atheists is pervasive throughout the world, to such an extent as in some places serving the death penalty to “unbelievers.”


Evans, R. (2012, December 9). Atheists around world suffer persecution, discrimination: report. Retrieved from

IHEU. (2016). Freedom of Thought Report. Retrieved from

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About Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. You can contact Scott via email, his website, or Twitter.

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