Punishment for Atheism in 7 Countries: Death
And atheists don't enjoy full rights in Arkansas: report
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2012 8:49 AM CST
A woman walks past a sign displaying an Atheist message along Ocean Avenue at Palisades Park in Santa Monica ... where such a belief is not punishable by death.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

(Newser) – 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.

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Showing 3 of 233 comments
Dec 11, 2012 9:47 PM CST
Hey, Satanists are not atheists. They believe in and worship a god. Are the seven countries saying Satanists should be allowed to live and atheists die? Hmmm... (Aw, who the hell needs freedom of choice anyway, right?)
Dec 11, 2012 7:34 PM CST
The world is blessed by having several nations with little patience for people who dont see things their way. Some say death to athiests; others say death to Christians, others say death to Jews, then of course there is death to Muslims, Bhuddists, Sufis, Bahais etc etc Death! Death! Death! Nothing like having a country where church and state is NOT seperated, to keep out the riff-raff .
Dec 11, 2012 6:38 PM CST
No atheist has ever chosen not to believe, one ether believes or they don't believe. For instance, I could not believe that Frosty the Snowman is anything but a fictional character even if I wanted to. It would seem though that "Atheist" deliberately characterize themselves as such, though they know the word has such negative connotations, just for the shock value. Why not "freethinker" or "agnostic" instead, for instance?