Belgium, together with Taiwan and the Netherlands top the list of the best countries for atheists and free-thinkers to live in, according to the Freedom of Thought report, produced by the International Humanistic and Ethical Union (IHEU). To draw up the list, IHEU assessed countries on the basis of four themes: constitution and authorities; education and children’s rights; society, community, family and justice; and freedom of expression and human values.
The three countries topping the list have been classified as “free and fair”. Joining them in the top five are France and Japan, while, at the other end of the scale, the bottom three countries are Afghanistan, Iran and, in the very last place, Saudi Arabia.
This study, the seventh annual report by IHEU, was presented at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. For the first time, it ranks the 196 countries according to the way they treat atheists, humanists and unbelievers. There, too, Belgium, the Netherlands and Taiwan are in first place.
The three countries were praised for their pluralistic approach to religion in a secular society. This does not mean there is no place for religion in the public space or that no religious conservatives live in these countries, but that there is no systematic discrimination against non-believers, stressed the International Union’s Bob Churchill.