What Are Religious Human Rights?

Nora Connor:  Water cooler talk around The Revealer offices keeps circling back to human rights these days (yes, we are a rock-and-roll lot). As in, what are they? Who gets to say what they are, and when and where? Are they “real” in themselves, out there in reality somewhere, waiting their turn to step forward, or are they a bit more ephemeral?  And why does human rights language often leave us confused?

A November 15th press release from the New York- and D.C.-based NGO Human Rights First neatly illustrates some of these conundrums while flagging a concrete change in legal human rights discourse. A resolution on combating religious intolerance was adopted by a U.N. committee without previously-favored language emphasizing that states are obligated to adopt and enforce laws against the defamation of religions. Continue Reading →

Atheist Solidarity with Religious Minorities?

An excerpt from Austin Dacey’s review of Christopher Hitchens’ new memoir, Hitch-22:

The Christian West, after all, did not migrate towards secular government by mass conversion to atheism. The leading public arguments and examples came from Christian minorities—Anabaptists like Balthazar Hubmaier; Puritans like Roger Williams, John Milton, and John Locke. Even Spinoza’s case for secularism was premised on his reading of the Bible.

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