Freedom of Thought Report 2014: non-religious targeted by ‘hate campaigns’, report finds

10 December, 2014

new report published today finds that non-religious people across the world are being targeted by ‘hate campaigns’ and face a rising tide of discrimination.

The ‘Freedom of Thought Report’, published annually on International Human Rights Day by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), assesses the situation faced by non-religious people in every country around the world and finds that almost all states discriminate against them, with the worst countries taking children away from atheist parents or imposing the death penalty for apostates.

This year’s report notes a ‘surge’ in ‘hate speech’ against non-believers which comes not just from radical religious voices but increasingly from political leaders and state officials, and also uncovers a ‘marked increase in specific targeting of “atheists” and “humanists”’, in addition to repressive laws targeting blasphemy and apostasy.

In spite of the fact that the non-religious are now, at 16%, the third largest global group after Christians and Muslims, the persecution they encounter worldwide is considerable – and growing. In the West, where the non-religious form the majority in many countries, their rights are often undermined in law and by social pressure. Across the Islamic world the situation is much worse, with new cases of repression and punishment documented in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Malaysia.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association and First Vice President of IHEU, commented ‘This report calls for international attention by non-religious and religious voices alike; after all, when freedom of thought is threatened, every minority suffers. We, the international humanist movement, are taking a united stand to draw public and political attention to the human rights violations perpetrated against the non-religious, and by protecting our right to be non-religious we are also taking a strong stance for religious diversity. The fight for secular values is not a fight between religion and Humanism, but between authoritarianism and individual freedom.’


For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive and IHEU First Vice President Andrew Copson on or 020 3675 0959

The Freedom of Thought Report website:

The International Humanist and Ethical Union:

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world umbrella group bringing together more than 100 Humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, and freethought organizations from 40 countries.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.