Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life

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Atheist/Godless ambigram

As you may have heard, there was a large gathering of godless folks in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 18–20. Sponsored by the Atheist Alliance International, the Gods & Politics conference attracted such speakers as all-around atheist god (har) Richard Dawkins, JREF founder and famed debunker James Randi, piranha-toothed PZ Myers, outspoken professor AC Grayling, Freedom From Religion Foundation co-founder Dan Barker, Skepchick Rebecca Watson – ie. all the atheist and skeptical bigwigs from around the atheist community, and it was reportedly a big success (though I don’t pay much attention to these things so don’t ask me). One of the outcomes of the event was a Declaration on Religion in Public life, a statement of principles put together and voted on by all those assembled there on the place and role of religion in society, and it reads as follows:

  • We recognize the unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and that freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.

  • We submit that public policy should be informed by evidence and reason, not by dogma.

  • We assert the need for a society based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. History has shown that the most successful societies are the most secular.

  • We assert that the only equitable system of government in a democratic society is based on secularism: state neutrality in matters of religion or belief, favoring none and discriminating against none.

  • We assert that private conduct, which respects the rights of others should not be the subject of legal sanction or government concern.

  • We affirm the right of believers and non-believers alike to participate in public life and their right to equality of treatment in the democratic process.

  • We affirm the right to freedom of expression for all, subject to limitations only as prescribed in international law – laws which all governments should respect and enforce. We reject all blasphemy laws and restrictions on the right to criticize religion or nonreligious life stances.

  • We assert the principle of one law for all, with no special treatment for minority communities, and no jurisdiction for religious courts for the settlement of civil matters or family disputes.

  • We reject all discrimination in employment (other than for religious leaders) and the provision of social services on the grounds of race, religion or belief, gender, class, caste or sexual orientation.

  • We reject any special consideration for religion in politics and public life, and oppose charitable, tax-free status and state grants for the promotion of any religion as inimical to the interests of non-believers and those of other faiths. We oppose state funding for faith schools.

  • We support the right to secular education, and assert the need for education in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs. We support the spirit of free inquiry and the teaching of science free from religious interference, and are opposed to indoctrination, religious or otherwise.

See?! This is proof that atheists have their doctrines and dogma and texts and they just wanna destroy religion! Atheism is a self-destructive religion!!! </predictable anti-atheist reaction>

Seriously, though, that’s one grand proclamation. One thing I’d like some clarification on, though: When they say that they “reject all discrimination in employment (other than for religious leaders)”, does that mean they’re for discrimination towards religious readers? It’s difficult to interpret it any other way. As for the rest, I can’t say I disagree with any of it. But, considering whence this comes, that’s not exactly unexpected.

Isn’t it time we brought this to the desks and offices of every politician and demand their thoughts on it, and if they don’t agree with it (or parts of it), a clear explanation why?

(via Pharyngula)