Freedom of Conscience in the USA

In an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, the American President Donald Trump has stated that he will introduce a new policy to prioritise Christians within the asylum process. Atheist Ireland is opposed to such policies, as an overt abuse of the human right to the freedom of conscience. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

“Everyone 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.”

Discrimination between human beings on grounds of religion or belief constitutes an affront to human dignity and a disavowal of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and shall be condemned as a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and enunciated in detail in the International Covenants on Human Rights, and as an obstacle to friendly and peaceful relations between nations.

As a human rights based organisation, Atheist Ireland has been critical of such abuses when they apply specifically to atheists. For example, Saudi Arabia has passed laws that outlaw atheism and equate atheists with terrorists. Non-Christians in the USA are entitled to the same human rights as non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia. Governments should treat everyone equally, irrespective of their religious or non-religious beliefs. It is unacceptable for States to discriminate against people because of their religious or non-religious beliefs and it is unacceptable for States to provide special underserved privileges to people because of their religious or non-religious beliefs.
Unfortunately, the Irish State is also guilty of abusing this fundamental human right. In Ireland, Christians are also afforded undeserved privileges, not least through our explicitly Christian Constitution. Atheist Ireland will continue to advocate for full respect of the human right to freedom of conscience both nationally and internationally, including for those whose beliefs we fundamentally disagree with.

“USA Flag” by Ian Britton is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

John Hamill

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Mickelodian February 11, 2017

    So what Trump is saying is he will apply a religious test to US federal legislation? Good luck to him overturning the US constitution…..

    How does he think that congress will pass a law discriminating on the basis of religious belief when they are sworn to defend this ->

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    In other words no laws that require a test of religious belief can be implemented. The state officials in the US cannot be asked to enforce such an order, and any law enacted by congress that does so is void.

    He can’t use an executive order since that facility is granted by the congress to the president. So all executive orders carry the same legal requirements to comply with the constitution as congress. So he can’t break any laws in the constitution that they can’t.

    Y’know I can smell a rash of litigation in the USA. US atheists should start that litigation right now… all of them, together… sue the Trump and his crowd of nazi crony bastards into the stone age.

    Lets see how he likes being poor.