SHJ Supports international religious freedom bill opposed to blasphemy laws
Farmington Hills, MI, June 24, 2015 – The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) has joined 16 other humanist, nontheist, secularist, atheist and religious freedom advocacy organizations in writing a letter in support of H. Res. 290, a bi-partisan international religious freedom resolution recently introduced by Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). The resolution calls upon the President and the U.S. State Department to make the repeal of blasphemy laws a priority in their relationships with countries that have such laws. In addition, this resolution encourages the President and the State Department to oppose any efforts at the United Nations or other international forum to create an international anti-blasphemy norm, or attempts to expand the international norm on incitement to include blasphemy or defamation of religions. Read the full text of the letter here.
In a joint statement by Larry Lawrence (Washington, DC), President and Stephanie Blum (Bloomfield Hills, MI), Chair SHJ of the Ethical Concerns Committee indicated SHJ’s reasons for signing on: “SHJ fully supports H. Res. 290, an international religious freedom bill opposed to blasphemy laws. Freedom of speech, which is a cornerstone of democracies, includes the freedom to criticize religions. Progress comes from an open dialogue hearing different points of view and this applies to religion as well as other sensitive topics. While SHJ condemns violence in the name of religion, free speech should be supported around the world.”