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Theocracy Reigns When Seculars Are Suppressed

The best course of religious freedom is to support the secular core of society.

By Roy Speckhardt, August 19, 2012

The U.S. State Department has issued its annual report noting concerns about religious freedom in many places around the world. The historic focus of such reports was on claims of restrictions to religious practices by believers, including everything from subtle discrimination to violence and war, usually perpetrated by members of competing religious groups. While new State Department leaders have expressed a willingness to chart a more inclusive course, this battle over religious freedom has traditionally overlooked one of the biggest players of all—the secularists.

The most prominent recent example is the worldwide attention and response to the case of Alexander Aan, an Indonesian man who was beaten and jailed for questioning the existence of a god. Not only was there a recent protest at Indonesian embassy for his release, a petition has been started, attention is being paid by countries around the world, and there is a Wikipedia page for Aan. The case has also brought attention to Indonesian intolerance of the nonreligious in general, including calls from Muslim extremists that nonbelievers like Aan be killed.

To read the rest of the Patheos article by AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, click here.