For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, DC, May 11, 2016)—The American Humanist Association applauds United States Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) for introducing legislation that prevents immigrants from being denied entry into the United States because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.
The American Humanist Association, in coalition with other religious freedom and civil liberties groups, worked to ensure that the rights of nonreligious individuals were included in this bill. The Freedom of Religion Act of 2016 specifically states that “an alien may not be denied admission to the United States because of the alien’s religion or lack of religious beliefs.”
“The inclusive language in this bill recognizes the rights of humanists, atheists and other nonreligious immigrants to equal treatment by the government,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This bill, if passed, would ensure that individuals cannot be barred from the country just because they don’t happen to identify with a particular religion.”
Matthew Bulger, legislative associate of the American Humanist Association, attended a press conference today on Capitol Hill to introduce the legislation. “This bill represents a significant step for the humanist and secular movement,” said Bulger. “The specific mention of protection for those without any religion demonstrates that Congress is beginning to expand its understanding of religious freedom to include those who do not identify with any religion.”
For years, the American Humanist Association has collaborated with legislators, the US State Department, and the Commission on International Religious Freedom to ensure that humanists, atheists and other nontheists are included in policy discussions relating to religious freedom. Through educational briefings and direct lobbying efforts, the American Humanist Association has been instrumental in advocating for international religious freedom bills such as HR 1150, which amends the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998; H Res. 290, which calls for an end to global blasphemy laws; and H Res. 396, which calls for the Bangladeshi government to protect the rights of minorities, including humanists and atheists, from religious extremists. The American Humanist Association will continue to fight for religious freedom for nontheists both internationally and within the United States.
The bill, HR 5207, introduced by Rep. Breyer and co-leads Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Rep. André Carson (IN-7), Rep. Joe Crowley (NY-14), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5), and Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4), can be viewed here. The bill has bipartisan support with over 50 additional co-sponsors.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.