Humanist International’s 2022 Freedom of Thought Report

On December 8, 2022 Humanists International launched the 2022 Freedom of Thought Report. In the report, HI concludes that only 4% of the global population live in societies that are truly secular, where there is a clear separation of religious and political authorities, that do not discriminate against any religion or belief community.

“This year’s Report provides evidence of clear and systematic discrimination against humanists and non-religious people, and this discrimination is most prevalent in countries with less state secularism. State secularism appears to be a prerequisite for the full enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International

According to the organization’s research, 70% of the world’s population live in countries where the expression of humanist values is severely repressed; where the full realization of one’s right to freedom of religion or belief is impossible. The result: harsh penalties for apostasy; a higher likelihood of the perpetuation of harmful traditional practices; religious nationalism entrenching conservative values within society.

Through 10 country chapters, this year’s Key Countries edition demonstrates the progressive erasure of the principle of secularism across the globe, and with it a decline in the protection of human rights. On the other hand, the report also exposes how extreme enforcement of so-called “neutrality” in the name of secularism can also impinge on the rights of others.

The Report exposes the harmful social and political consequences of both extremes of the spectrum of secularism, supporting the organization’s assertions that true secularism, which is inclusive of all, “is the best approach to politics and the ordering of states, and that it has proved itself to have greater potential for human freedom, happiness, and equality than all other political settlements in history.”

In’s coverage of the 2020 edition, we indicated that the report contains an entry for every country in the world and uses a unique rating system ranging from “Fee and Equal” to “Grave Violations”. Canada’s rating overview states:

Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy, extending north into the Arctic Ocean, and sharing the world’s longest land border with the United States. Despite what should be strong constitutional protections for freedom of thought and expression, significant religious privileges are in force, both nationally and in several of its ten provinces and three territories.

Canada’s rating does not appear to have been altered since the 2022 edition, as there doesn’t appear to be any significantly new information presented. This lack of an update appears to be based on some strategic changes in the way the FOTR is published.

The last page of the report that bears any kind of text explains that the report is a worldwide survey of discrimination and persecution against humanists, atheists and the nonreligious published by Humanists. While the report is intended to be continuously updated, HI’s goal is to update 40 countries each year on average and to continue to publish a “Key Countries” edition.

While HI doesn’t appear to have much new to say about Canada at this time, you may be interested in the infographics showing overall ratings:

Watch List vs. Key Countries

HI’s most recent report contains a “watch-list” of countries the organization continues to monitor but for which no new entry is provided. Meanwhile, the “key countries” section of the report updates 40 countries.

One Big Indicator

In November of 2022, we published our own story where we suggested that a significant indicator of concern is any state which retains a religious police force.

At this time, seven nations have formalized and explicitly-designated religious police: Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. These are a dirty seven which should be under international scrutiny and pressure to discontinue faith-based policing – a practice that is nothing other than state violation of fundamental human rights.

What Big Indicators would you add to HI’s list and our reporting?

Citations, References And Other Reading

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