The Freedom of Thought Report 2018 is out

The Freedom of Thought Report 2018 is out

Posted on the 29/10/18

Today, the International Humanist and Ethical Union launches the 2018 edition of the Freedom of Thought Report at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The Report covers every independent country in the world and looks at issues like how ‘freedom of religion or belief’ and ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘association’ are respected in law and in practice.

For example, the Report highlights if it’s not possible to register a non-religious organization, or to identify as religious, or if some government positions are reserved for members of certain religions. It looks at things like whether tax exemptions are given to religious groups, especially if there is no equivalent for secular groups. It looks at whether there is mandatory religious instruction in schools, which may violate the rights of children to think freely and develop their own worldview, and whether religious schools are funded with public money (a problem in many countries is that parents in some areas have no choice but to send their children to a religious school). And of course it looks for explicit persecution, such as when religious or political leaders, or even heads of state denounce atheists simply for being atheists, and non-believers are attacked and murdered.

The objective of the report is to document violations and raise criticism against countries on human rights grounds, highlight individuals’ stories so as to show how discriminatory laws can affect people, inform expert opinion and high-level debates and open up discussion of persecution against the non-religious more generally.

For the first time, the report contains a full ranking of every country in the world according to its level of discrimination against atheists, humanists and the non-religious.

The top 10 countries identified are as follows: Belgium, Netherlands, Taiwan, Nauru, France, Japan, São Tomé and Príncipe, Norway, United States of America and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The bottom are: Brunei Darussalam, Sudan, Malaysia, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Report will also be presented at the European Parliament on 6 December. More information to come.

You can read the press release of the IHEU below.


Top 10 best and worst countries to be an atheist

  • In a world first, a list of the best and worst countries to be an atheist has been published.
  • The report is published by the world’s leading organisation for the non-religious, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
  • The IHEU also supports humanists at risk of persecution, and has issued a renewed call for funding and donations to continue their important work

This year (2018), the IHEU launches it’s 7th annual Freedom of Thought Report, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. For the first time the report contains a full ranking of every country in the world, according to its level of discrimination against atheists, humanists and the non-religious.

At the same time, the organization issues a call for support, from atheists and humanists in wealthier nations around the world, for valuable funds to continue its work.


Top 10     Bottom 10  
Country Ranking out of 196   Country Ranking out of 196
Belgium 1 Brunei Darussalam 187
Netherlands 1 Sudan 188
Taiwan 1 Malaysia 189
Nauru 4 Mauritania 190
France 4 United Arab Emirates 191
Japan 4 Pakistan 192
São Tomé and Príncipe 4 Maldives 193
Norway 8 Afghanistan 194
United States of America 8 Iran 195
Saint Kitts and Nevis 10 Saudi Arabia 196

Speaking at the launch of the report at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, said:

The Freedom of Thought Report has become an invaluable source of well-researched and important information for policymakers. The report highlights the range of discrimination that people can face around the world because of their non-religious beliefs, something that many would like to ignore.

Also commenting on the launch of the 2018 report, Andrew Copson, President of the IHEU, said

This is a world’s first. For the first time our report will show, with authority and accuracy, the discrimination faced by people around the world because of their non-religious beliefs. This report paints a dark picture, with significant discrimination faced by our non-religious friends and colleagues around the world.

At a time of growing nationalism, we continue to see those who are brave enough to criticise and critique conservative religious leaders demonized as ‘unpatriotic’ and ‘subversive’.

At IHEU, we are leading the world in campaigning to promote and protect the rights of atheists and humanists – but frankly we cannot keep up with the large and powerful lobbies of the Christian-right in America and conservative Islam in the middle-east. This is why we issue a frank request; if you are lucky enough to live in one of the ‘top 10’ countries identified in this report, please consider making a donation today, so that we can continue our important work to protect those in the ‘worst 10’.

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