Social Justice Challenge: ACTION! for Religious Freedom

For this month’s Activist level participation I undertook the following Action Steps:

  1. Joined my country’s chapter of Amnesty International and donated $20.00. I believe there’s also a group at my university that I may join.
  2. Sent in three emails in support of various causes.
  3. Signed up for regular updates from Forum 18.
  4. Read and reviewed Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje.
  5. Watched and reviewed Religulous.

I am also posting this update in my blog to remind others who are involved in this challenge or want to contribute in support of Religious Freedom that there are some great suggestions for action on the Social Justice blog: here. In addition, there are some other organizations which share similar ideals – e.g. the Freedom From Religion Foundation; the International Red Cross; Doctors Without Borders and Lawyers Without Borders that probably should be on that list as well, so it might pay to do some digging of your own.

I was going to make a comment about how issues of religious freedom are frequently framed as one religion oppressing another and the way few seem to remember that freedom from belief is just as worthy of protection, but on greater reflection, that seems of little real significance. It seems to me that there are two different levels of religious freedom here. Atheists have been subject to discrimination because of their lack of religious beliefs, have lost jobs, been ostracised, criticised and demonised, and there are places where apostasy is still regarded as punishable by death. However, I think we have very little specific claim to religious persecution in general because, let’s face it, as far as I know there are no regimes dedicated to rounding up non-believers and eradicating them from the country. I’m not saying that freedom from discrimination is necessarily unimportant, but it seems to me to be a lesser religious freedom in the grand scheme of things. The freedom to openly not believe in God or gods can only come about when everyone is free to believe according to his or her own conscience without violence. Once we are all able to do that, then it will be time to redress the social balance.

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