America tied for 8th-best nation in the world to be an atheist in

Survey released by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU.)

Edit: Mods, it should say “8th,” not “3rd,” can someone edit the headline?

Tied for third with Norway! Woo-hoo! Six total counties scoring first and second.

Took some searching, but Canada is ranked 82. About halfway down the list.

Evidently less free than Cambodia, Colombia, Niger, Congo and Uganda.


Yeah I am a bit confused. I expected to see Canada above the USA.

Me too.

But the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms has this preamble:

*Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

In the U.S., the constitution explicitly separates church and state. There is no such provision in Canada.

I guess these factors have some weight in the ranking, even if they have nothing to do with what happens to atheists in everyday life.

Any more information as to what they were using to create the score for the countries?

I always love ranking where we’re no.1.
(tied with Belgium? WTF?)

Groeten uit Holland!

(it is because we’re so close to heaven: We know nobody is there):slight_smile:

The preamble to the Canadian Constitution: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law

There is also constitutionally required state funding of religious schools.

The US is bad for atheists culturally, but quite good governmentally. So if you’re an atheist in America, your neighbor might give you the stink-eye, but the government mostly stays quite far out of religious things to a fairly ridiculous degree that you don’t see in other countries. So in the US, we have serious debates about the government displaying the Ten Commandments, Canada just doesn’t care. Parliament Building is filled with Bible verses plastered all over the place. The Peace Tower has huge Bible verses in its archways and in the US while that would certainly lead to a statue of Baphomet having to hang under it, Canadians don’t really give a rip. The mace has a cross. The speaker’s chair has a cross. Canadians mostly just see it as part of their cultural heritage while Americans see it as the government oppressing minority religions.

And thank God for that. :slight_smile:


Note that the ranking isn’t about overall freedom but rather about how easy it is to live as an atheist, so that might be the factor here.

Although my understanding is that Uganda has a powerful evangelical Christian political contingent. That’s what would surprise me on first glance.

On a related note, the article says -

Yet Saudi Arabia chairs an influential panel on the UN Human Rights Council. Go figure.


They seem to have divided it up into 4 categories: Constitution and government; Education and children’s rights; Family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals, and Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist value.

Basically, stuff like having publicly funded schools gets points, and having a law on the books with a possible prison sentence for blasphemy gets loadsa points, even if no-one’s ever been charged under it and it’s just not been removed because it’s been forgotten, as no-one cares any more.

Though it does pick out the countries where it’s actually problematic to be atheist, it also flags up countries where there’s some leftover religious trappings, unenforced old laws, official holidays based on religious festivals or even anti-religious-hate-crime legislation.

I mean, the UK comes in ranked 133rd in that list, despite being over 1/4 atheist, including me. My school was state run and technically tied to the C of E, but had students who were atheist, Muslim, Sikh, plus a bunch of varied Christians and miscellaneous, plus at least one openly atheist teacher. There was an annual optional Christmas carol service at the church, and one of the many regular visitors was the local vicar, that pretty much sums up the limit of the association.

Btw, Canada comes in ranked 124th, with 82 points, not 82nd.

A bullshit survey and the UK coming that far down just confirms it.

I’ve been an atheist all my life, as has my wife and neither of us has ever found any practical problem from being so.

If you are an atheist in the UK absolutely no-one cares. That cannot be said of the USA now can it?

Certainly not, based on my personal experience.

I get that there is little government restriction on atheism" in the US, and no requirement of membership in any particular church. But there is plenty of government support for theism, which at least this nontheist could happily do without.

Are you forgetting that a significant proportion of the House of Lords is made up of unelected Bishops, and that they therefore exert considerable influence on your life, like it or not? Or the recently* increased* emphasis on faith schools?

I’m not going to argue about the fine detail of their survey, but whiter-than-white we ain’t.


So it seems like countries that have had a religious tradition, that is now largely ignored and forgotten, are being hammered in this report.

Practically, I would rather be an Athiest in Canada, than many other parts of the world, and would be perfectly comfortable in the UK. Not so much in some of the extremely religious parts of the US.

That’s why the US ranks high. A pastor would NOT be allowed in a US school, at least not to say anything religious or to speak in any capacity (although during graduations, there are sometimes unofficial benediction services that take place at a separate place and time that have wink, wink, nudge, nudge approval.) Similarly, a US school would NOT be allowed to sing Christmas carols. Some schools might allow secular Christmas songs, but it’s actually getting rare to see that. My kids have a ‘Winter Festival’ and the songs that they sing are exclusively related to the weather.

I think it’s actually one of the reasons that things are so contentious between the religious and non-religious in the US. When I’m in the UK, it seems like religion is private, but acceptable in the public sphere as a traditional thing. The Queen is the Head of the Church after all. In the US, it’s much more about absolutely zero tolerance for religion in the public sphere and it creates these very sharp dividing lines and fosters an ‘us vs. them’ type of attitude.

Technically tied to the C of E (Church if England) or not, your school had, and so far as I know still has, a legal obligation to perform a daily act of collective worship (recent refs for example:;

It may not have messed with your mind too much (and cross fingers for myself as well) but there’s a constant pressure being exerted; as I have already observed, we’re not exactly whiter-than-white.


Wow, being an atheist everywhere else must suck.