Choosing not to believe can be a deadly choice in seven of the world's countries, according to a new report out today. It found that atheists can be executed for their views in Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. Reuters notes that the report didn't actually catalog any recent executions for atheism; but that's likely because the charge is typically absorbed by other charges, say the researchers. Denial of "the right to exist" isn't the only woe suffered by atheists per the report, which outlines other persecution and challenges they face around the world:
- In countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, and Kuwait, it's illegal (and dubbed "blasphemous") to publish atheist views.
- A number of countries, including Malaysia, force all citizens to register as a member of an officially recognized religion in order to obtain documents necessary for accessing everything from education to medical treatment.
- The West doesn't get off scot-free, with the report noting that many secular countries give deferential treatment to Christian churches. It cites the "pride of place" given to the Orthodox Church on state occasions in Greece, and Britain's automatic bestowal of seats in parliament's upper house on bishops of the Church of England.
- Closer to home, atheists are actually barred from holding public office in seven US states; in Arkansas, atheists are prohibited from serving as a witness at a trial.