Continuing his recent trend of small but meaningful steps forward in the twilight of his administration, President Obama signed an update to the U.S. law which protects religious freedom to include non-believers in the protection.
Now surely some obtuse right-wingers will whine about how they don’t think the non-religious should be included in a religious act, but for many non-religious individuals nationwide, the nod is greatly appreciated.
President Obama signed the amendment to the International Religious Freedom Act on Friday, amending the act to include the clause,
“the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs and the right not to profess or practice any religion.”
The law has been on the books since 1998, but this is the first time that it will include language protecting non-theists as well as theists.
The decision to include non-religious individuals as a protected class is certainly influenced by the growing number of members of this group. Increasingly, the younger generation is shirking religion and embracing their non-denominational belief system.
This is particularly important as around the world, attacks on non-religious individuals continue to grow. Even here in the U.S., and especially in religious areas, there is a great deal of stigma against non-religious individuals.
Even individuals running for office are frequently subject to religious litmus tests, and the chances of a non-religious person being elected is extremely rare.