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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Humanists must stand with Christians on religious freedom

Chinese police turning people away
from planned Easter service, (c) CNN.
As a Humanist and an atheist, I have often written on the importance of church/state separation. Often I write to Humanist audiences and as a Humanist minister my subjects often involve the matter from the point of view of nontheism - in other words, the right to practice no religion. However, the separation of church and state benefits more than just the non-religious or Humanists. It also protects more than the state from the undue religious influence of one group over another. The wall of separation between church and state also protects religion from the heavy hand of the state.

Today in China, as reported in an article by CNN, the Police are moving to block Christians from worshiping and celebrating Easter. They are blocking more than 500 people from leaving their homes as part of an effort that includes disrupting a planned Easter service for Shouwang Church, one of China's largest unregistered (illegal) churches. The church reports that nearly 200 churchgoers have been arrested in the past month. The Chinese "government" detained several reporters there to obfuscate its shameful acts before the world.

When the French outlawed the wearing of religiously meaningful dress for Muslims I wrote in detail why such an approach was harmful and wrong. At the time, I was asked why I don't defend Christians the same. While Christians were not the subject of that article, the universality of the principles I outlined should have been obvious. This Humanist (and I dare say, by definition, all Humanists) is declaring support for the Christians bravely practicing their beliefs despite such oppression, not only on Easter but every day, in every place around the world where any person's right to speak and practice their beliefs is infringed upon.

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