Cranford, NJ – American Atheists joins with local and national religious groups and community leaders to express our deep distress at the situation in Ferguson, Missouri—the violence, arrests, and threats to the freedom of the press and the freedom to peacefully assemble.
The rights to assemble and to seek redress of grievances from our government are central to the functioning of a democracy. Failure to recognize these rights, even and especially during an emergency, is an unacceptable failure of the promise of our Constitution. Commitment to ensuring that basic human rights are protected transcends religious lines and should unite us all.
Free expression, whether it takes the form of religious worship, religious criticism, peaceful protest, assembly, reporting by journalists, or public debate, is one of these basic human rights. We are gravely disturbed when any government uses force to stifle such expression.
Violence and censorship are never the appropriate response to speech the government may find disagreeable. This is as true in the United States as it is in countries which criminalize blasphemy or apostasy. We condemn such violence and censorship here just as we would violence and censorship abroad.
Overwhelming data makes it clear that race profoundly impacts the experience people have in their interactions with our nation’s criminal justice system. As an organization that values evidence-based policy making, it is clear to us that this structural crisis must be addressed immediately.
American Atheists urges all involved to end the violence and ensure that the fundamental rights of protesters, the press, and the citizens of Ferguson are protected.
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AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director