Atheist Ireland meets with CFI Canada to announce charter of International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws

by Michael Nugent on February 12, 2015

ICABL Eric and John

John Hamill from Atheist Ireland met yesterday in Toronto with Eric Adriaans from Centre For Inquiry Canada, to announce the charter of the new International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws, and to discuss how both groups will work together as co-founders and partners in the campaign to end blasphemy laws.

Other partners include Atheist Alliance International, Humanist Canada, BC Humanist Association, Association humaniste du Quebec, Humanist Society of New Zealand, International Humanist and Ethical Union and a growing list of organisations around the world who have agreed to work together in the campaign to end blasphemy laws.

Eric Adriaans is the national executive director of CFI Canada, and John Hamill is the coordinator of Atheist Ireland’s blasphemy law campaign. They are pictured here with the Coalition’s charter. John is wearing a CFI tee-shirt presented to him by Eric that reads “Stop Faith-Based Bigotry.”

The charter reads as follows:

Charter of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws

1. We are an international coalition of organizations committed to removing blasphemy laws wherever they exist.

2. We will:
(a)   Provide public education regarding blasphemy laws around the world.
(b)   Advocate on behalf of victims of blasphemy laws.
(c)   Lobby governments to act on expert legal opinions, which consistently recommend that these laws be repealed or abolished.

3. We defend people’s right to discuss, criticize and ridicule ideas and beliefs, even when this offends other people.  Humans have rights beliefs do not.

4. With regard to freedom of speech laws which are aimed at protecting people rather than ideas, members of the coalition may have different approaches or policies.

5. We argue that blasphemy laws are harmful:
(a)   They violate freedom of expression and deny equality.
(b)   Actively enforced blasphemy laws infringe on and violate human rights around the world.
(c)   Passive blasphemy laws reinforce active blasphemy laws.
(d)   They have been repudiated by international law and governance bodies.
(e)   Blasphemy laws are sometimes hidden under other language.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MosesZD February 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm

You know, Michael, it’s almost as if you’ve lost the thread… We all know the best way to ensure the equal rights and fair treatment of atheists is to character assassinate other atheists for things that are only true in your own, warped-reality head…

Seriously, though, it’s so refreshing to see people like you do real things of real importance instead of rage blog. It’s to the point that I rarely read any atheist blogs as so many have become personal-attack, click-bait rage blogs of little worth or merit.

2 Iamcuriousblue February 15, 2015 at 3:42 am

Kudos to you and your group, Michael. The return of blasphemy legislation is one of several key areas where free speech protections in liberal democracies are being eroded, and I’m glad groups like yours are making an organized effort to fight it. One thing to look out for is anti-blasphemy language being inserted into “hate speech” legislation. In general, I think such legislation is problematic to begin with, and all the more when it’s simply a way of protecting vested interests under the guise of protecting minorities and marginalized groups.

I’m curious, though – you’ve mentioned CFI Canada – is US CFI on board with this effort? There have been a lot of disturbing developments inside of CFI leading it toward being more on a “social justice” organization with a jaundiced view of free speech, but I’m hoping they’re still good for opposing legislation like this.

3 Skep tickle February 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

Fantastic work. Not only did this take vision, hard work, and probably vigorous efforts at alignment, it is aimed at specific goals that should help millions of people around the world (many, but not all, atheists).

I particularly like the attention to global diversity in #4, acknowledging that “members of the coalition may have different approaches or policies” regarding freedom of speech outside of blasphemy.

Iamcuriousblue, CFI is listed at the ICABL website [1] as a “supporting coalition partner” and CFI-Canada as a “national coalition partner”, with a brief description at each heading of the type of participation. I don’t see anything about this international coalition at CFI’s website, but perhaps I’ve just missed it.

FWIW, Eric Adriaans will be speaking in the US at CFI’s Reason for Change conference this spring. He’s introduced at the conference website [2] this way:

Eric Adriaans, executive director of a reenergized CFI-Canada, which is doing important work as we speak trying to overturn the country’s antiquated blasphemy law.

That page also shows him participating in the Plenary Session, “The Humanist Movement and Social Justice Issues: A Moderated Conversation” to be “led by Debbie Goddard and Ronald A. Lindsay” with “Panelists: Ophelia Benson, Anthony Pinn, Todd Stiefel, Eric Adriaans”, but that session title doesn’t necessarily suggest he’ll be talking about efforts against blasphemy laws.

[1] _http://end-blasphemy-laws.org/about/partners/
[2] _http://reasonforchange.centerforinquiry.net/

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