For Immediate Release
Kate Uesugi, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-238-9088 (ext. 105)
(Washington, DC, March 11, 2022) – Last night, Congress passed the 2022 Appropriations Act, which includes language, drafted by staff at the American Humanist Association, that supports the repeal of blasphemy laws around the world. This is the second year Congress has, through the appropriations process, explicitly encouraged the State Department to prioritize the global repeal of blasphemy laws, using AHA-drafted language.
The bill “includes funds to support in-country training programs for countries that repeal or begin a formal process to remove blasphemy-related offenses for their criminal codes, and to train relevant civil society leaders, religious leaders, the media, the judiciary, and law enforcement on conflict de-escalation tools, community engagement, peacebuilding, and international human rights standards,” states the Act’s joint explanatory statement.
“We were delighted to see Congress include our language in the bill for the second year,” says AHA Director of Policy and Social Justice Rachel Deitch. “Repealing blasphemy laws and moving toward a society that allows and encourages freedom of thought requires significant investment in reframing not only the law, but public perception and beliefs. That’s exactly what this language aims to provide. We hope that Congress’s actions to include the language for a second year establishes a precedent that ensures that the US government will support these efforts for years to come.”
Blasphemy laws exist in more than 80 countries and are the most explicit laws banning the expression of doubts or criticism regarding religion. In several countries, the penalty for being found guilty of violating these laws is death. Blasphemy laws are used to restrict the rights of not just the nonreligious, but minorities of all faiths and philosophies, women, LGBTQ people, and political dissidents.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.