Tag Archives: atheist

esSENCE Global: The World’s Biggest Atheist Meet in “God’s Own Country”

When was the last time there was a meeting of Secular Humanists in Canada, or indeed all of North America which could proudly affirm 10,000 attendees? Or even 5,000? The Reason Rally website (as of October 5, 2022) appears to still have branding from 2016 and proclaims “The Reason Rally is proud to have hosted the two largest gatherings to celebrate secular identity and speak up for reason in American history.” Despite a bit of mis-place modifier action going-on in that proclamation, we can take it that things were still happening in 2016.

In Canada, the most recent iteration of the Imagine No Religion conference (INR7) was held in Toronto during the summer of 2017. We remember it fondly as HumanistFreedoms.com stands as a product of friendships developed and sustained at that time.

Time has indeed passed and one must only wonder if it isn’t perhaps time for Secular Humanists in North America to look around and take stock. Where is everybody? Where is that solidarity to promote reason and secular values?

Maybe it’s also time to take note of undertakings on other continents.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The first edition of Litmus, the annual meet of esSENSE Global, was held in Thiruvananthapuram, India, in Oct 2018. The next one was held in Kozhikode in 2019. Litmus is noted for all round participation from the secular-atheist community and the general public in the state of Kerala. Expatriate Malayalees also participate in this annual event in large numbers.

According to TheNewsMinute.com, “Around 10,000 people gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Kadavanthara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on October 2, Sunday, to attend an annual meet named ‘Litmus 22’, pitched as “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country’”.

‘Let evidence lead’ is the motto of Litmus and stated on the event website that:

No pompous fanfare by parading of caparisoned elephants through packed streets.
No vengeful god with their inherent fury or priests with their greedy interests.
No eardrum shattering high decibel fireworks or loudspeakers.

Instead, this session entails a celebration that promotes the advancement of humanity through enhancing scientific temper and freethinking as per article 51 a(h) of the constitution of India.

esSENSE GLOBAL is a registered organization under the Registrar of Societies, Government of Kerala, India with ‘ESSENSE CLUB GLOBAL’ as the registered name. Via internet, social and printed media the organization is known as esSENSE GLOBAL.

The goal of esSENSE GLOBAL is to promote the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform in the society inspired by the Article 51 A (h) of Constitution of India which insists “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. esSENSE GLOBAL strives to liberate the society of Kerala from religious and secular superstitions, dogmas and intellectual bondage. Unbiased freethinking is the stand we espouse without flinch. esSENSE Global always holds the view that Kerala society requires a real handshake with science and its methodology so as to advance to the next level of human civilization. When we defend science, in fact, we defend our civilization.

esSENSE GLOBAL organizes Seminars, Study classes, Panel discussions, Presentations, Debates, Aid missions throughout the state of Kerala to spread the ideas and values mentioned above. All programs are recorded and published in YouTube and social media.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://essenseglobal.com/about-us/
  2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/around-10000-people-attend-atheist-meet-kerala-168536

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

The Violent Hand of Ideology: A Fanatic Attacked Salman Rushdie

On 12 August 2022, Salman Rushdie was brutally attacked and severely injured during a speaking event in Chautauqua, New York. As a publication devoted to humanism and human rights – including the right to freedom of expression which is so fundamentally linked to this situation – HumanistFreedoms.com condemns the attack and expresses hope for Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie’s best possible recovery.

While there are many stories about the attack in mainstream media providing reports of the attempted murder, the attacker’s name and hints to his motivation, these particulars seem to be little more than incidental to the attack. There seems to be little point in re-sharing information that is so readily available . Indeed, there seems to be much more sense in focusing on who the attacker was in the bigger picture. This latest attacker was nothing other than the inevitable and violent hand of extremist ideology.

Some of us at HumanistFreedoms.com had the opportunity and privilege to attend Rushdie’s reading from one of his novels when he visited the Toronto Public Library in 2015. It was a lovely and engaging evening – exactly the way attending a reading ought to be. The way the event in Chautauqua ought to have been. A room full of mostly mild, curious and intelligent individuals; a brief and charming interview; an author sharing their own voice with those who wished to hear it. It was the kind of thing Rushdie had so clearly been doing for many previous years and clearly expected to do for many future years as well. After all, who goes to hear an author speak other than those who want to hear what he has written and may have to say about it?

It is not possible, however, to have attended a reading by Salman Rushdie without being aware that he had lived under the threat of attack and assassination since 1989 when a fanatical ideologue and politician issued a faith-based assassination order against him. His conversation never seems to be far from that simple fact nor from the implications that it carried: sometimes people attend these events to prevent others from hearing the things that may be said.

The fact that the fanatical politician/ideologue/religious leader who had ordered the assassination happened to be a high ranking Shia clergy member and the “supreme leader” of a nation ought to have been enough to keep fanaticism and the perpetual probability of violence on anybody’s mind. In 1989, someone tried to complete the assassination and blew himself (and some of a hotel) up. Apparently there is a shrine in Tehran describing the person

Salman Rushdie: Violently attacked due to a work of fiction written almost forty years go.

as a “martyr”. in other words, a religious hero.

Fanaticism is a state that must be developed, encouraged and maintained. It must be cultivated. The fanatic and their cultivator each bear a portion of the responsibility for any violence which they promote and enact. To claim anything else is cowardice, at best – but more probably an indicator of traits worse by far than mere cowardice.

In the Iranian government’s first public comment on this more recent attack, its foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said “Regarding the attack on Salman Rushdie, we do not consider anyone other than [Rushdie] and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation.” The message is clear when it comes to ideologues. Cross them and you’ll get what they think you deserve.

But not everyone is like that. Not everyone flinches from truth.

The attacker’s mother had some different perspectives to offer, “As I said to the FBI I’m not going to bother talking to him again. He’s responsible for his actions. I have another two minors that I need to take care of. They are upset, they’re shocked. All we can do is try to move on from this, without him.

Only a few things more need to be said in context of an initial reaction to this brutality. Violence is the inevitable conclusion when extremist ideology, and let us emphasize any extremist ideology, is left unchecked, when fanatics are allowed to persist in delusions that their opinions and preferences cannot be challenged, when destroying another human being is considered a morally-entitled response to being offended.

And what do the humanist organizations have to say so far? We might have wished for more…and more emphatic than what we have been able to locate so far (Frankly, Rex Murphy seems to have done a better job of it). But we searched several prominent English-language humanist organizations with Salman Rushdie’s name and here is what we found on 2022/08/16

Unrelated to the attempted slaughter of an author by the violent hand of ideologues, one of our humanist mentors had recently shared a quotation from Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of :  https://www.salmanrushdie.com/salman-rushdie-the-author/
  2. https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/rex-murphy-trudeau-biden-wont-name-actual-threat-to-salman-rushdie/ar-AA10ImbW
  3. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/hadi-matar-mother-of-man-who-stabbed-salman-rushdie-says-he-changed-after-trip-to-lebanon-3256055
  4. https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/15/middleeast/iran-blames-rushdie-attack-intl/index.html
  5. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11110905/Mother-alleged-Salman-Rushdie-attacker-says-son-responsible-actions.html

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

APA Research and Atheism

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following articles and studies were located on the APA website and in several online publications.

Self-referencing affects perceptions of workplace discrimination against atheists.

Cantone, J. A., Walls, V., & Rutter, T. (2022). Self-referencing affects perceptions of workplace discrimination against atheists. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000466


The number of self-identified atheists and nonreligious individuals is increasing, yet research examining discrimination toward atheists in the workplace remains rare. The present study expands prior work on religious hostile work environment complaints to one involving an atheist employee alleging discrimination. In the present study, 234 students and community members (gender: 133 women, 93 men, 6 nonbinary/transgender, 2 unreported; religious status: 126 religiously affiliated; 75 “none”; 10 atheist; 6 agnostic; 17 unreported) were recruited to complete an online legal decision-making study. Participants read the complaint of an atheist employee alleging that an Evangelical Christian supervisor’s proselytizing constituted discrimination. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions varying the complainant’s gender (male; female) and student status (student; worker) to examine the role of similarity. Participants completed legal measures from both the objective perspective required by the law and their own subjective perspective to examine the role of self-referencing. Participants’ subjective ratings of whether the conduct would constitute discrimination if it happened to them generally affected their objective ratings of whether the atheist employee had been discriminated against. Religious status similarity, as well as gender, affected participants’ legal ratings. In particular, nonreligious, atheist, and agnostic participants were more likely to see the conduct as discrimination, while Evangelical Christian participants were less likely. Results show that self-referencing and similarity affect how people perceive workplace discrimination faced by atheists. Recommendations for future research and workplace trainings are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Being agnostic, not atheist: Personality, cognitive, and ideological differences.

Karim, M., & Saroglou, V. (2022). Being agnostic, not atheist: Personality, cognitive, and ideological differences. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000461


Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term agnostic in 1869.

Why do several nonreligious people self-identify as agnostic and not as atheist? Beside epistemological differences regarding what is knowledgeable, we hypothesized that such a preference reflects (a) personality dispositions, that is, prosocial orientation, open-mindedness, but also neuroticism, (b) cognitive preferences, that is, lower analytic thinking, and (c) ideological inclinations, that is, openness to spirituality. In a secularized European country (Belgium), we surveyed participants who self-identified as Christian, agnostic, or atheist (total N = 551). Compared to atheists, agnostics were more neurotic, but also more prosocially oriented and spiritual, and less dogmatic. Strong self-identification as atheist, but not as agnostic, was positively related to analytic thinking and emotional stability but also dogmatism. Nevertheless, spiritual inclinations among both agnostics and atheists reflected low dogmatism and high prosocial orientation, and, additionally, among agnostics, social and cognitive curiosity. From a personality perspective, agnostics compose a distinct psychological category and are not just closet atheists. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Explaining anti-atheist discrimination in the workplace: The role of intergroup threat.

Rios, K., Halper, L. R., & Scheitle, C. P. (2021). Explaining anti-atheist discrimination in the workplace: The role of intergroup threat. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000326


Based on the common ingroup identity model and Intergroup Threat Theory, as well as the fact that atheists are among the most stigmatized groups in the U.S., the present experiments tested whether and why people would be less willing to accommodate atheist (relative to Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) employees’ religion-related requests in the workplace. In three studies, participants responded to vignettes depicting an employee who requested to express his/her religious beliefs (or lack thereof) at work—for example, by displaying a quote at his/her cubicle or wearing a pin with a religious (or non-religious) symbol. As predicted, participants were especially unlikely to honor the atheist employees’ requests; this effect was driven by participants’ perceptions that the atheist employees posed a symbolic threat (i.e., were trying to impose their beliefs onto others; Studies 2–3) and, to a lesser extent, a realistic threat (i.e., jeopardized the organization’s economic status and resources; Study 3) in the workplace. Though the effects of participant religiosity were inconsistent across studies, the tendency for reluctance to accommodate the atheist employees’ requests was slightly stronger among religious than non-religious participants. Implications for how anti-atheist bias at work arises and can be mitigated are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of :  
  2. https://www.psypost.org/2022/07/new-study-sheds-light-on-a-key-factor-influencing-perceptions-of-workplace-harassment-against-atheists-63464
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2022-44664-001?doi=1
  4. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2022-44665-001
  5. https://www.psypost.org/2021/08/people-are-less-tolerant-of-atheists-expressing-their-beliefs-at-work-compared-to-christians-muslims-or-jews-61626
  6. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-25719-001
  7. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2021-22804-001

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

AAT’s Atheist Refugees Assistance Program

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was located on Bianet.org on June 1, 2022.

By: Melin Durmaz

İstanbul – BIA News Desk – 26 May 2022

The Atheism Association in Turkey is running several projects, most notably the Atheist Refugees Assistance Program (ARAP).

As part of the ARAP project, 13 people were provided with housing, nine people were provided with jobs, 25 people were provided with legal assistance and reference letters were provided for 22 files in two years. Also, 20 people were provided with psychological, financial or educational counseling.

The ARAP project has three partners: The Atheist Alliance International, the Center for Inquiry and the Ex Muslims of North America.

Summarizing their work, Süleyman Karan, the chair of the association, said, “With the ARAP Project, the association carries out integration work for people who had to migrate due to religion. The association provides translation support in addition to legal support for refugees’ questions, such as ‘How to find a home? How to get a residence permit? How to access education?'”

“At least 3 percent of Turkey are atheists”According to the official data, at least 3 percent of the people in Turkey are atheists. Atheism is divided within itself and the association forms an umbrella, said Karan.”The reason for the existence of the Atheism Association is to show that different atheists exist in this country as a community of at least 3 percent [of the country]. Currently, deism has the highest share; it is followed by agnostics.”Deism and agnosticism have a manageable comfort in the public. For an atomized individual, to feel is super comfortable. Saying that a creator exists facilitates one’s existence in society. Agnostic atheism, however, says positioning ourselves on a thing that we can never know whether it exists or not is not right.”

Karan also talked about the stories of the people who applied to them:

“Atheists refugees are under threat”

“People are coming from Iran, Afghanistan. There are many refugees whose families are taken prisoner in Iran. We had atheist friends who lost one eye because of torture in their own countries. An activist in Afghanistan is currently trying to survive by changing hotels every day.

“In this region, there is a considerable number of secular, atheist and deist people. Refugee people are under double oppression. They are both displaced from their homeland and they are subjected to discrimination and threats within their communities because they are atheists. For example, a Syrian atheist is under serious threat in terms of mental health and life safety within their refugee community.”

The ARAP project is carried out with two employees who speak Persian and Arabic. The association is also looking for lawyers because their services in migration law are weak, said Karan.

“We are the pole star in the region”

Noting that they are the only atheism association in Turkey that is accredited by the European Union and the United Nations, Kata said, “Along with being the only atheist and humanist association in the region, we are in a transit location for migrants.”

“Even though there is an association in Nigeria with the name of the Nigerian Humanism Association, its chairperson Mubarak Bala was sentenced to prison. Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for writing blog posts criticizing religious regulations. In this context, we are a little pole star that the countries in the region can look at.”

Campaign against high azan volume

The Atheism Association is also running campaigns about the compulsory religion class, high volume of azan, the Muslim call for prayers, and removal of the “religion” section from ID cards.

“[Lawyer] Tuba Torun brought the compulsory religion class issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and won. We also provide legal support in this regard.

“Another issue is the campaign to remove religion from identity. The ‘Take five minutes to get rid of this’ campaign. This is also child abuse. Your family cannot assign you a religion before you can make up your mind. This is a successful campaign that we run, saying, ‘Show courage and give the right answer to one of the most fundamental problems of existence.’

“In Rize, someone told the civil registry directorate that they wanted to erase the religion section and the official told them that ‘They will kill you.’ The boy came to the Beşiktaş Civil Registry Directorate [İstanbul] and had it erased.

“Another campaign of ours is the high volume of azan, which we consider to be environmental and noise pollution. The [Presidency of] Religious Affairs is responsible for the volume not exceeding a certain level. But, while the azan would not be heard in Teşvkiye and Muradiye Mosques in the past, it is now very disturbing in Şişli. We provide legal support for this.”

Humanist perspective

The association puts the humanist perspective at the center of atheism. Karan is of the opinion that refugee policies in Turkey should also be addressed within this framework.

“Refugees come to Turkey from different countries and regions. Integration policies should be developed by protecting the freedoms and rights of refugees within the framework of human rights, starting from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have to support refugees. This is the case from a humanist perspective.

“When I say humanist, I’m not talking about loving humans, I mean being human-centered. I mean the likes of Thomas More and David Hume.

Humanism is the basic proposition behind the universal declaration of human rights, the rule of law, and secularism. The main effort of humanism is to take the power from there and bring it here. Humanism is people putting themselves before God.” (MD/AÖ/VK)

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Feature Image Courtesy: https://www.atheistrefugeesturkey.com/post/jana-s-story
  2. https://bianet.org/english/migration/262402-turkey-s-atheism-association-is-helping-atheist-refugees-faced-with-double-oppression
  3. https://www.atheistrefugeesturkey.com/about-us#:~:text=WHAT%20IS%20ASSOCIATION%20OF%20ATHEISM%2C%20TURKEY%3F%20The%20Association,Republic%20of%20Turkey%2C%20European%20Union%20and%20United%20Nations.
  4. http://turkishatheist.net/
  5. https://www.atheistrepublic.com/news/turkish-atheism-association-shuts-down-due-pressure

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.