of Freethought, Secular, Humanist, Rationalist & Atheist
Associations from Five Continents
On the initiative of the International Association of Free Thought
Public funds must no longer be used to finance churches and religions!
We represent associations from all continents acting for separation of churches and religions from states, for formal secularization of institutions, in accordance with the increasing secularization of societies.
The watchword of our actions is to work towards respect for the freedom of conscience of each and every one, of all human beings living on the planet. That is to say, the freedom to believe or not to believe. We do not conflate freedom of conscience with freedom of religion because the latter is only one component of the former and not its equivalent.
We reject the idea that religion be considered a separate category among the variety of convictions of Humanity. Or that it should be given special status exempting it from rational and human criticism. Or that it should in addition be financed by public funds taken from the total contributions of taxpaying citizens.
That is why we are opposed to any form of civil and criminal enforcement of what is generally referred to as “the crime of blasphemy.” The right to engage in unfettered criticism is a fundamental democratic right. Its necessary corollary is complete freedom of expression. We are referring here to criticism of opinions and facts, not individuals as such.
That is also why we refuse and condemn the privilege of churches and religions – which represent the convictions of only a few – being financed from public funds which are the fruit of the contribution by everyone.
Coming from the USA (1791), Mexico (1857), France (1905), Portugal (1911), Russia (1918), Uruguay (1918), Spain (1931) and Turkey (1937), the democratic demand for the necessary Separation of churches and religions from states has continued to mobilize conscious Humanity. Since then, numerous countries on all continents have established that principle. The progress of Separation has a long history.
Ever since James Madison, Father of the American Constitution and 4th president of the United States, observed in 1819 that “the number, the industry and the morality of the clergy, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state,” the History of human emancipation has shown that, whatever the dominant religious cultures in society, the principle of Separation of the sphere of public institutions from the religious sphere is not only possible and feasible, but it is highly desirable in order to establish and consolidate Democracy.
In all countries, on all continents, in all national and international institutions, we must take action to advance the Separation of churches and religions from States.
Together, let us work for secularism!
Appeal launched on the initiative of the
International Association of Free Thought (IAFT)
at its international Congress in Montevideo (Uruguay), 19th-20th September 2015.