An Open Plea to the Atheist Community


No, it’s not about what you think.

I just finished reading the following post by Ophelia Benson about The Apostasy Project.

She quotes a short letter they received that quite literally made me cry:

I am an ex Muslim living in Kenya. I am in the closet because if I go public I will lose my job, my children, my security and even my life. Would you please advice and assist me.”

This person went on to say that the only option xi sees is asylum in a more liberal country. As Ophelia points out, The Apostasy Project is currently unable to assist with asylum.

And that pisses me the fuck off. Not at The Apostasy Project, mind you. They are blameless in this. What pisses me the fuck off is that we apparently don’t have asylum assistance.

And I’m not okay with that.

I am not rich.

Indeed, I am poor.

I am also not a very good writer, especially of proposals.

But I do not care how much red tape has to be cut, or how many forms have to signed.

I don’t care who has to be asked, nor do I care how long it will take. I desperately need your help to put this together. I need people who can write proposals, lawyers, and people with money. I need people with connections to government.

We, atheists, need an asylum project. This person, and all the people out there in similar situations, need this. They should have an organization they can reach out to for actual help with their fucking lives.

Please.

I beg all of you.

Help me. Let’s do this. Let’s create a way for those who need asylum because of their godlessness to get it. let’s do this together. It’ll mean putting aside differences and being willing to potentially work alongside some you do not like. It will mean putting the lives of those oppressed ahead of yourself. But I really, desperately want this to happen.

I know it won’t be easy. I know getting asylum is ever so much harder than giving support, and money, and other resources. But that is no excuse to not work for something like this. This is something we can all do. This is something we can do as atheists, in solidarity with atheists.

Please help this person. Please help all of them.

Please. Help me to do this.

I’m begging you.

About Nathan Hevenstone

All this is stream-of-consciousness. See my "About" page to find our more about me...
This entry was posted in Activism, Agnosticism, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Atheism, Atheism+, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Nexus, Atheist Organizations, Bigotry, Black Atheists of America, Bullying, Camp Quest, Center for Inquiry, Charity, Facebook, Freethought Blogs, Freethought Society, FreeThoughtAction, Government, Institute for Science and Human Values, James Randi Educational Foundation, Law, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, Protection, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, Secularism, Skepticism, Social Justice, Stiefel Freethought Foundation, The Brights, The Council for Secular Humanism, United Coalition of Reason and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to An Open Plea to the Atheist Community

  1. if you’re not christian, the conservative government of canada currently is not interested in helping you. so applying for asylum here as an atheist might be problematic since our own atheists are still stuck in the closet in most communities fearing repercussions against family, employment etc.

    an organization helping atheists file for asylum would be wonderful, as it could also assist people in selecting an atheist friendly nation to begin with…and potentially lobby governments in semi-friendly nations like Canada, to be fully open and enshrine freedom FROM religion as official policy and defend it as a human right.

  2. It would be good if the UNHCR were bigger, more efficient and more connected with groups like recovering from religion.

  3. Stacy says:

    Nate, I have no money either, but I’m willing to help if I can. I’m willing to do some research on how to write up a non-profit proposal and help write one.

    Sent you a friend request on Facebook.

  4. I’m the Executive Director of Recovering From Religion, and this is what we are all about. I have been contacted by people in South Africa, Sudan, Singapore, several provinces of India, the Philippines, and other nations by people seeking help as they leave the confines of faith. We have programs in the works to get real support and resources to them, but we can only do so much at one time because we’re a volunteer based organization with limited staff, so for this instant we’re focusing on the Hotline Project. Still, we know and are in regular contact with people all over the world who need our help, and we ARE going to help them, with the support and encouragement of the secular community all over the planet. Thanks for posting this :) ~SarahM

    • Thank you so much for your response. I was not aware that Recovering from Religion did asylum, and reading that makes me so very happy.

      You also note that you have limited staff. As I said in my post, I’m not very skilled at organizing these things, but would RFR be willing to put it’s name to a group dedicated solely to atheist/secular asylum? Walton brings up a very powerful point as well, that we should be open to helping those who need, regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof, asylum from fanaticism. I’d like to have that incorporated.

      I really do think this needs to be done. I am so very happy, and relieved, to hear that RFR does this, and I’d like to do what I can to provide RFR with more resources in order to do more with asylum assistance.

  5. (continued) I’ve been at protests in solidarity with LGBT asylum-seekers facing deportation to countries like Uganda and The Gambia. In the worst case, a Ugandan lesbian woman called Jackie Nanyonjo was beaten so badly by her guards while being deported from the UK that she later died of her injuries.

    This is absolutely something atheists should be campaigning on. It’s one of the major social justice issues of our time, and sadly the oppression of asylum-seekers all too often gets swept under the carpet.

  6. Yes, we do. I’ve been trying for a while to get atheists involved in refugee rights activism. Not just for fellow atheists, but also, for instance, for LGBT asylum-seekers fleeing homophobic or transphobic violence in their home countries. Who are typically victimized a second time by the asylum claims process. Here in the UK, many asylum-seekers are detained in hellholes like Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, and treated like criminals. The people making decisions on asylum claims are often deeply prejudiced against asylum-seekers, and LGBT people face disbelief, ignorance and homophobic prejudice from tribunal judges and unrealistic demands to “prove” their sexuality or gender identity.

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