From The Gods and Politics conference in Copenhagen

29 June, 2010

Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life

By Atheist Ireland | Published: June 29, 2010

The recent Gods and Politics conference in Copenhagen adopted the following Declaration on Religion in Public Life. The conference was the first European event of Atheist Alliance International, and was co-hosted by AAI and the Danish Atheist Society.

We, at the World Atheist Conference: “Gods and Politics”, held in Copenhagen from 18 to 20 June 2010, hereby declare as follows:

  • We recognize the unlimited right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief, and that freedom to practice one’s religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.
  • We submit that public policy should be informed by evidence and reason, not by dogma.
  • We assert the need for a society based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. History has shown that the most successful societies are the most secular.
  • We assert that the only equitable system of government in a democratic society is based on secularism: state neutrality in matters of religion or belief, favoring none and discriminating against none.
  • We assert that private conduct, which respects the rights of others should not be the subject of legal sanction or government concern.
  • We affirm the right of believers and non-believers alike to participate in public life and their right to equality of treatment in the democratic process.
  • We affirm the right to freedom of expression for all, subject to limitations only as prescribed in international law – laws which all governments should respect and enforce. We reject all blasphemy laws and restrictions on the right to criticize religion or nonreligious life stances.
  • We assert the principle of one law for all, with no special treatment for minority communities, and no jurisdiction for religious courts for the settlement of civil matters or family disputes.
  • We reject all discrimination in employment (other than for religious leaders) and the provision of social services on the grounds of race, religion or belief, gender, class, caste or sexual orientation.
  • We reject any special consideration for religion in politics and public life, and oppose charitable, tax-free status and state grants for the promotion of any religion as inimical to the interests of non-believers and those of other faiths.  We oppose state funding for faith schools.
  • We support the right to secular education, and assert the need for education in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge, and in the diversity of religious beliefs. We support the spirit of free inquiry and the teaching of science free from religious interference, and are opposed to indoctrination, religious or otherwise.

Adopted by the conference, Copenhagen, 20 June 2010.

Please circulate this as widely as you can among people and groups who advocate a secular society.

So how many American politicians would be willing to sign on to this?  Even part of it?  Atheists, nonreligious, freethinkers, rationalists and agnostics make up around 15% of America’s citizens.  I would hazard a guess that less than 1% of our elected representatives would agree with even a few of these rather common sense affirmations.


  1. Very good points, very terribly written. I’m embarrassed.

    Of course, those atheist scientists are so reasonable that they don’t have to bother trying to make themselves clear. Or provide support for wild assertions.

    No, I’m not going to go through a sentence-by-sentence parsing of all the ambiguities and unsupported assertions. Someone should have had the good sense to ask a decent writer to lend a hand. I understand that there are some decent writers in the Atheosphere.

  2. When here in the US a supreme court nominee is asked where she was on a certain christmas day, on public record, it kind of makes me wonder.

    Maybe not a “religious test” overtly, but still, that sly dig that “you are not really one of us”.

    The I Don’t Care What The Law/Constitution Says This Ia A Christian Nation.

  3. I would hazard a guess that less than 1% of our elected representatives would agree with even a few of these rather common sense affirmations.

    I think more than 1% would privately agree with some, many or all of the affirmations. But, getting more than 1% to publicly declare their agreement may be a whole different matter.

  4. Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

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