This is a historic moment for the nontheist community!
On Tuesday, a bill that will strengthen international religious freedom—and specifically protect nontheists around the world from persecution and discrimination—passed Congress and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature.
For nearly a year, AHA Legislative Director Matthew Bulger worked with members of Congress to ensure that H.R. 1150, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, was inclusive of the nontheist community. The Act does several things: it gives the Administration and the State Department new political tools through increased funding, strengths the standing of the International Religious Freedom Office and the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and supports other actions meant to foster religious freedom abroad.
But here’s the big news: If passed, this will be the first law which includes the term “nontheist,” an official recognition of our community and the issues we face.
Thanks to our persistent and strategic lobbying efforts—which would be impossible without the support of AHA members like you—the Act now states, “The freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.” The Act also condemns “specific targeting of non-theists, humanists, and atheists because of their beliefs” and attempts to forcibly compel “non-believers or non-theists to recant their beliefs or to convert.”
Once this bill becomes law, it will be a huge step towards protecting atheists and humanists around the world from the recent wave of violence against members of our community.
The passage of this historic bill is a culmination of the amazing progress we’ve made together. Thank you for helping us in our fight to protect religious freedom for all, regardless of what we believe—or don’t believe.
P.S. After you send your message to President Obama, I hope you’ll consider making a special year-end donation that makes legislative achievements like these possible.