A recent U.S. report highlights the prominence of anti-blasphemy laws around the globe and urges the State Department to designate Nigeria as a country of particular concern.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released its 2022 report, which flags religious liberty concerns country by country. The report is extensive and addresses many aspects of religious liberty around the world. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, while noting the USCIRF’s checkered history of leadership, applauds the report’s attention to international blasphemy laws.
This year's report recommends that the State Department put Nigeria back on the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPCs) after that designation mysteriously disappeared last year. It discusses the case of Mubarak Bala, a young Nigerian father, husband and atheist who was recently given a lengthy prison sentence for the victimless crime of blasphemy. FFRF recently called on the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to help free Bala. The report’s third appendix lists “religious prisoners of conscience” and includes a profile of Bala.
The report also surveys global blasphemy laws generally, noting that 84 countries around the world continue to maintain anti-blasphemy laws. It gives another example of blasphemy charges in Poland, where three LGBT activists faced charges in January for “offending religious feelings” by displaying posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a rainbow halo.
Anti-blasphemy laws violate our most essential human rights: the freedom of thought, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
“While some American believers cry persecution because they are not allowed to impose their religious beliefs onto public school students, or to deny service to same-sex couples, the USCIRF report shows what real religious persecution looks like around the world,” notes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The report highlights the importance of secular government. People shouldn’t be punished because they don’t share the religious beliefs of their elected representatives or other government officials.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is committed to fighting blasphemy prohibitions around the globe, standing up for true religious freedom. There cannot be freedom of religion without a government that is free from religion.