During the UN General Assembly in September, at an event dubbed a "Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom," US President Donald Trump announced the formation of a coalition of American business leaders whose mandate will be to "encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace." I was in the audience at the invitation of the US Department of State to represent the interests of humanists and other nontheists.
Given this administrations relentless attempts to permit religious bigotry and discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, this coalition is likely nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to privilege Christianity at the expense of true religious freedom for all. The announcement reminded me of two other attempts by the Trump regime to create publicly funded groups dedicated to the elimination of our civil rights. In July 2018, the then attorney general Jeff Sessions announced a Religious Liberty Task Force, meant to enforce a dangerous October 2017 executive order. Just a year later, in July 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the Commission on Unalienable Rights to ostensibly enshrine "rights" as the word pertains to US foreign policy. But religious liberty and civil rights activists are concerned that this commission is yet another attempt to remove LGBTQ+ rights and those of the nonreligious from the international conversation.
The American Humanist Association's constituents were noticeably left out of Trumps call Monday for freedoms for the faithful, as we have been in every so-called religious freedom action taken by this administration. And so it is critical that nontheistic Americans--humanists, atheists, and others--remind the administration, and all those who would prefer to see our existence ignored, that we're in the room, listening to the conversation. That we're actively working in the courts, in the halls of government, and in the public square to combat the dismissal of nontheists and the religiously unaffiliated. We cannot allow an agenda that privileges Christians over all others to escape scrutiny.
The Trump administration also announced efforts to encourage foreign governments to allow their people to "follow their conscience, live by their faith, and give glory to God." However, the number of countries in which nontheists experience harassment is growing rapidly. According to a Pew Research report released this past summer, harassment of religiously unaffiliated...