USA House Bill calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws, passed overwhelmingly!

by Disillusioned JW 12 Replies latest social current

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    On December 7, 2020 USA Congressman Jamie Raskin's (MD-08) bipartisan House Resolution 512, calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws, passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 386-3; see . A description of the bill says "The Resolution also calls for the immediate release of religious prisoners of conscience worldwide. As more than 80 countries use blasphemy laws to persecute and imprison religious minorities and dissenters, the House asserted the essential importance of freedom of religion and liberty of conscience globally."

    The text of the bill is stated at . Some things mentioned therein are the following.

    "Whereas Article 18 of the International Declaration of Human Rights states that “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”;

    Whereas many countries continue to have criminal blasphemy laws and punish people who engage in expression deemed by the government to be blasphemous, heretical, apostate, defamatory of religion, or insulting to religion or to religious symbols, figures, or feelings, and such punishment can include fines, imprisonment, and capital punishment including by beheading;

    Whereas blasphemy laws have affected Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Baha’i, secularists, and many other groups, are inconsistent with international human rights standards because they establish and promote official religious orthodoxy and dogma over individual liberty, and often result in violations of the freedoms of religion, thought, and expression that are protected under international instruments, including Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);


    Whereas restrictive laws beyond those penalizing blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy further limit religious freedom, such as extremism laws—

    (1) in Russia that have been used to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization and fueled persecution of this religious group;


    (3) in North Korea, to detain an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in labor camps because they followed the tenets of Christianity;


    Whereas blasphemy laws in the United States were invalidated by the adoption of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects the freedoms of thought, conscience, expression, and religious exercise; and

    Whereas the United States has become a beacon of religious freedom and tolerance around the world: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

    (1) recognizes that blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws inappropriately position governments as arbiters of religious truth and empower officials to impose religious dogma on individuals or minorities through the power of the government or through violence sanctioned by the government;

    (2) calls on the President and the Secretary of State to make the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws a priority in the bilateral relationships of the United States with all countries that have such laws, through direct interventions in bilateral and multilateral fora;

    ...." [The emphasis is mine.]

    I was informed of the legislation by a letter (asking for a donation) I received from the American Humanist Association, dated May 2021. The letter mentioned the activities and accomplishments of the Association and it says their "Policy and Social Justice Director Rachel Deitch authored new drafts of the "congressional blasphemy resolution and the National Day of Reason Resolution at the request of Rep. Jamie Raskin's (D-MD) office." The letter further says that "These resolutions work to ensure that individuals of a minority faith--or no faith at all--have the latitude to question religion and religious practices without fear of repercussions, and reason, not prayer, prevails in the halls of government." [The emphasis is mine.]

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    The National Day of Reason Resolution is mentioned at "National Day of Reason is Reintroduced and Expanding" and it says "The National Day of Reason is gaining nationwide momentum and being recognized as its own holiday, instead of a response to the National Day of Prayer." The web page also says the following.

    "Whereas irrationality, magical and conspiratorial thinking, and disbelief in science have undermined the national effort to combat the COVID–19 pandemic, contributing to the deaths of more than 555,000 people in the United States;

    Whereas reason and science are fundamental to implementing an effective coordinated response to beat the COVID–19 virus, which includes improved social confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccinations and evidence-based solutions to the inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, and involves the Federal Government, the States, and the scientific and medical communities;"

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    I wish our Congress critters would do something useful with their time. The House has no authority over other countries’ law, let alone Russia, Iran or North Korea.

  • truth_b_known

    Anony Mouse:

    I get it. We have people who are homeless, without healthcare, and starving. Meanwhile congress decides to virtue signal over religious persecution in other countries.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Anony Mous, there is also a corresponding resolution introduced and passed in the USA Senate (introduced by a Republican); see . The senate has the power to ratify USA treaties. If the House and Senate bills are reconciled, and if USA President Biden signs it, then it becomes law. The USA executive branch has the power to pressure foreign countries to change their practices, including ceasing their human rights violations. One way the US executive branch can do such is through the UN Security Council, as well by direct negotiations with individual countries. says the following.

    "Resolution agreed to in Senate with an amendment and an amended preamble by Unanimous Consent.


    Passed Senate (12/19/2020)

    This resolution calls on the President and the Department of State to (1) encourage the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws in bilateral discussions between the United States and countries that have such laws; (2) designate countries that enforce such laws as countries of particular concern for religious freedom; and (3) oppose efforts by the United Nations to implement an international anti-blasphemy norm. The resolution also calls on the governments of countries that enforce such laws to amend or repeal them and to release anyone imprisoned pursuant to them."

    The law is also relevant to the USA because some nations (including Islamic nations) are are trying to get the United Nations (which the USA is a member of) to implement an international anti-blasphemy norm, such as through a resolution of the UN General Assembly. That effort includes trying to pass an international resolution banning people for speaking and writing against Islam and other religions and against belief in God, and thus effects atheists (including me) and others. The resolutions in both chambers of the USA Congress calls on the USA executive branch (including the USA President) to oppose such efforts.

    Though the House and Senate bill might only be symbolic (since maybe they don't have the authority to force the President and State Department to take action), if the USA executive branch supports the bills, it might later lay the groundwork for legislation in the USA (and USA court rulings) which prevent religions in the USA from putting excessive pressure against their members and former members for blasphemy, apostasy, and heresy. It might eventually lead to legislation banning the WT/JW religion from mandating (or encouraging) that faithful current JWs shun ex-JWs.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    In my prior post where I said "the UN General Assembly" I probably should have said "the UN Human Rights Council (the U.N.’s main human-rights body)".

    To see why such resolutions by the USA are needed, or potentially needed, including opposing efforts by the United Nations to implement an international anti-blasphemy norm, see (called "Blasphemy Resolution Passes U.N. Committee") and (called "An Anti-Blasphemy Measure Laid to Rest"). The latter article says the following.

    'A long-term campaign by the U.N.’s large Muslim bloc to impose worldwide blasphemy strictures — like those in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran — was given a quiet burial last week in the Human Rights Council, the U.N.’s main human-rights body. At the session that ended in Geneva on March 25, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), sensing defeat, decided not to introduce a resolution calling for criminal penalties for the “defamation of religions” — a resolution that had passed every year for more than a decade. This is a small but essential victory for freedom.


    The OIC’s anti-defamation effort was inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini’s infamous 1989 fatwa, directing “all zealous Muslims to execute quickly” the British author Salman Rushdie and others involved with his book TheSatanic Verses. While not explicitly embracing vigilantism, the Saudi Arabia–based OIC, an organization of 56 member states, quickly endorsed Khomeini’s novel principle: that Western law should be subject to Muslim measures against apostasy and blasphemy.

    The OIC worked to institutionalize this principle within the United Nations. By 1999, it began introducing resolutions annually in the Council’s predecessor (the now-discredited Human Rights Commission) to condemn any expression that could be construed, however broadly, as “defamation of religions” — but meaning, specifically, criticism of Islam.


    In 1999 and 2000, the anti-blasphemy resolutions were adopted by consensus, with, inexplicably, the U.S. joining in.


    However, in 2007, support within the Council declined, and the “yes” votes steadily eroded thereafter.'

    The article says that resistance to efforts to pass further UN resolutions against defamation of religion were strengthened in part due to ".. the persistent lobbying efforts against the resolution by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, members of Congress — notably Representatives Chris Smith (R., N.J.), Frank Wolf (R., Va.), Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) — and a broad array of non-governmental organizations, from the Becket Fund to Human Rights First."

  • oppostate

    I applaud the bipartisan effort of these bills. When one can be sanctioned for speaking out against religions, all free speech erodes. Let reason prevail and may freedom be upheald

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    When has a bill regards human rights ever stopped anyone from ratifying a treaty with the enemy? If we had held to these standards, we wouldn’t have gotten the nuclear treaties with the USSR, which risked proliferation.

    Human rights violations are a thing non-free countries do. It’s the job of their population to overthrow their government. But as we’ve seen in places like Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea, the enemy you know may be better than the enemy you don’t. Either you “imperialize” them and force freedom, or you don’t and risk communism or Islamist theocracy.

    Now if there were a bill that would fund anti-communist and anti-Islamist pro-democracy and pro-capitalist groups and fighters in those regions, I would agree. I think everyone can spare some funds for Khomeini, Ping and Castro to get a rocket up their asses.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Anony Mous, I was not suggesting that it would be good for a bill regarding human rights to stop the USA from ratifying a treaty with an enemy. But I did have in mind that a bill in favor of a "global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws" might prompt the USA to use leverage for a "global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws" as part of negotiations with an enemy, and with a country the USA has some degree of friendship with.

    I was also suggesting that human rights (pertaining to bill a about "global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws") might nudge the USA to bring about a UN Treaty regarding "global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws" and that if such happens, the USA Senate might then ratify that Treaty.

    I don't advocate imperialism. While forced imperialism in some cases has brought some good, probably in all cases it has also brought much bad.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    The following article is somewhat related to the topic of this thread says in part the following.

    "The broad cultural changes Saudi Arabia has witnessed in recent years have been reflected in the development of social sciences teaching methods in universities and the expansion of research topics that were previously not possible, academics who study social science issues say.


    Earlier this year, and for the first time in the kingdom’s history, critical thinking and philosophy started being taught to middle and high school students, with the help of a British teacher-training company.

    Moreover, male and female students of anthropology, philosophy and other social sciences have also had opportunities to study abroad with state-supported scholarships."

    That article links to an article about critical thinking and philosophy called "Saudis look forward to critical thinking and philosophy lessons in schools" at . It says the following.

    'Lecturer Abdulrahman Al-Haidari, who has been teaching English at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah for 18 years, said he has always found it important to ask his students challenging questions that encourage them to think for themselves.


    “By introducing critical thinking and philosophy into the curriculum, students take charge of their own learning experiences,” she said. “They learn how to think outside the box, ask the right questions, be more creative, solve problems and take the right decisions.”


    “When students develop critical-thinking skills and become familiar with different life-related philosophies, they accept and respect different opinions and see life from different perspectives,” she said. “Hence they become more accepting and tolerant of living in a culturally diverse society.” '

    The article at is relevant to this topic thread since it mentions how many people in the USA might be secretly atheist. And, we know there are a number of PIMO JWs who are atheists and who would like the freedom to be openly atheistic without their family being psychologically forced to shun them.

Share this