Freethought Takes a Stand in Congress

While Thanksgiving over for this year, it is still a good time to ‘Give Thanks’ to our Representatives in Washington, who are making a difference for everyday Americans. In particular, we can thank Rep. Jamie Raskin (Democrat from MD), along with Rep. Ted Yoho (Republican from FL), who brought House Resolution 512 to the floor, where it passed by near-unanimous support of 386-3. The three negative votes were all Republicans, Andy Biggs (AZ), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX). Of the 39 who did not vote, all but six were Republicans. In terms of the Pittsburgh region, all Representatives voted YEA, except for … you guessed it … Guy Reschenthaler, who chose not to vote.

So, what is this text of this important resolution, which drew wide bipartisan support?

HR 512 called for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.”

Whereas Article 18 of the International Declaration of Human Rights states that [e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance;

Whereas many countries continue to have criminal blasphemy laws and punish people who engage in expression deemed by the government to be blasphemous, heretical, apostate, defamatory of religion, or insulting to religion or to religious symbols, figures, or feelings, and such punishment can include fines, imprisonment, and capital punishment including by beheading;

Whereas blasphemy laws have affected Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Baha’i, secularists, and many other groups, are inconsistent with international human rights standards because they establish and promote official religious orthodoxy and dogma over individual liberty, and often result in violations of the freedoms of religion, thought, and expression that are protected under international instruments, including Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

Rep. Jamie Raskin argued forcibly that “Everyone must be able to practice the faith or no faith at all without the threat of government violence and persecution”. Rep. Raskin feels strongly about this issue, not because of his personal religious belief, but rather because of his lack of religious belief. Rep. Raskin is the co-chair of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, which “was established in April 2018 to foster science and reason-based solutions and to defend the secular character of government. “ It worth noting that Pennsylvania has one member in the Freethought Caucus with Susan Wild PA-7 in the Lehigh Valley. Let’s hope for more visibility and more members joining this important caucus in 2021.

Source: Wikipedia

About SamStone

A Steel City Skeptic who thinks science and reason is the light that we should follow to find our way in this world.
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