American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and AHA Communications Director Maggie Ardiente met with several members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom today at the U.S. Capitol to represent humanists, atheists, and agnostics in the United States and abroad. In addition, the American Humanist Association also met with the staff of Congresspersons who are members of the International Religious Freedom Caucus and representatives from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
Members of the working group of organizations concerned with religious freedom abroad include a diverse range of religious and civil liberties organizations in Washington DC. The American Humanist Association was the only nontheist organization in attendance and highlighted the need to include people of non-faith in the protection of religious freedom.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chairperson for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, was present at the meeting and discussed ways in which the commission plans to work with NGO organizations and hear more about each community of faith and non-faith in order to achieve the goal of religious freedom for all. Representatives from other organizations highlighted the need for support in countries such as Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Nigeria, where individuals are being persecuted for their beliefs as a member of a minority religion. The American Humanist Association is particularly concerned with atheist discrimination, such as the case of Alexander Aan, who was sentenced to jail in Indonesia for being an atheist.
The AHA looks forward to future meetings with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the International Religious Freedom Caucus, and the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom to work toward the common goal of freedom of conscience and belief.