Blasphemy and Apostasy
Freedom of speech is a fundamental American value. The United States must stand up for religious freedom abroad by condemning the use of blasphemy and apostasy laws to silence nontheists and religious minorities.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental American value. The United States must stand up for religious freedom abroad by condemning the use of blasphemy and apostasy laws to silence nontheists and religious minorities. According to the the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), 71 countries have laws that punish individuals for expressing ideas that offend religious sentiments.
In addition to prohibitions against blasphemy, some countries have “apostasy laws” which punish individuals for leaving the official state religion or declaring oneself nonreligious. According to the 2017 Freedom of Thought Report, 22 countries currently have apostasy laws on the books and, in 12 of these countries, it is a capital offense.
As a world leader, the United States should aggressively champion the rights of religious minorities and nontheists around the world. This includes condemning blasphemy and apostasy laws the infringe on the freedom of expression and belief. The Secular Coalition for America urges Congress and the State Department to forcefully apply political pressure whenever possible on governments violating these fundamental human rights.
Author Stephen Waldman profiled his book, Sacred Liberty: America’s Long, Bloody and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom, in Newsweek, writing: “Most of our modern fights over religious freedom are…