This page's purpose is to share all the stories of discrimination we come across, all the stories which don't require action alerts because of nature or timing, but need to be made known.

  • Discrimination against atheists
  • Discrimination by the Church
    DISCRIMINATION OF THE ATHEIST by Staks This page may be copied and distributed as many times and to anywhere, as long as it is done so as a whole with credit given to Staks, the author. Thank you and enjoy. ABSTRACT
    Throughout history, atheists have been faced with discrimination. This discrimination has taken many forms, ranging from the less severe forms of discrimination such as receiving dirty looks, to the most severe form of discrimination, persecution. This paper will investigate the beginnings of discrimination against atheists and its impact on atheism. It will then explore some of the most famous accounts of persecutions against atheists. Next, it will discuss blasphemy laws. In addition, this paper will show how discrimination against atheists continues today. "What is an atheist? An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of a god, i.e., in the existence of a supernatural being. Why doesn't the atheist believe in a god? Quite simply, because belief in a god is unreasonable. Can the atheist prove that a god does not exist? The atheist need not "prove" the nonexistence of a god, just as one who does not believe in magic elves, fairies, and gremlins does not have to prove their nonexistence. A person who asserts the existence of something assumes the burden of proof. The theist, or god-believer, asserts the existence of a god and must prove the claim. If the theist fails in this task, reasonable people will reject the belief as groundless. Atheists do not believe in a god because there is no reason they should" (Smith 62-3). Throughout history, atheists have been faced with discrimination. This discrimination has taken many forms, ranging from the less severe forms of discrimination such as receiving dirty looks, to the most severe form of discrimination, persecution. Today, atheists may not have to deal with persecution, but they do have to worry about being discriminated against on a variety of levels. But first, let us travel back in time to the beginning of all this discrimination against atheists. Although the belief in a god dates back many thousands of years, the unbelief in god or atheism didn't come about until shortly after the birth of Christianity. One of the main reasons for discrimination of atheists is the New Testament: "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no god.' they are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good." This famous biblical passage captures the essence of how the average religious person views atheism. Atheism is probably the least popular, and least understood, philosophical position in America today. The very word 'atheist' often conjures up the image of an immoral, dangerous cynic - an apostle of destructive negativism. (Smith 61) According to the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas, "The sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals," and that heretics "be exterminated from the world by death (Quote in Smith 62). This ideology was later taken more seriously when the Inquisition started in Spain in 1478 and continued in various forms until 1833. The height of the Inquisition took place in 1538 ("Spanish Lit., Unbelief in" 643). During the Inquisition, "Books were burned and thousands of accused persons were tried and put to death for heresy and various kinds of witchcraft" ("Spanish Lit., Unbelief in" 643). Atheists, Jews, and anyone who was not Christian were persecuted. Those who were not persecuted either pretended to be Christian or left the country in fear of their life This however was not the end of discrimination and persecution of atheists. In 19th century Britain, there had been a law against blasphemy. Blasphemy was considered a serious crime with 88 people prosecuted and 61 of those people convicted ("Freedom of The Press and Unbelief" 241): George William Foote and W.J. Ramsey, editors of the Freethinker, an atheist journal that mixed satire and comic cartoons with more serious attacks on Judeo-Christianthought and the Bible, were brought to trial in 1883 under the common law of blasphemous libel. ("Freedom of The Press and Unbelief" 241) They were later found guilty and jailed for one year. Other cases of discrimination of atheists were "Two cases of famous persons in England whose children were taken away from them merely because they were atheists" ("Law and Unbelief" 398). Blasphemy laws didn't only exist in Europe, Charles B. Reynolds was arrested and convicted of blasphemy in New Jersey in 1887. And in 1894, the editor of the freethought paper Blue Grass Blade was also put on trial. He was jailed once before on blasphemy charges ("Freedom of The Press and Unbelief" 243). And who could forget what happened in Salem Massachusetts? Salem was the center of the trials over witchcraft and heresy. Between 1692 and 1693, hundreds of people were arrested and tried as being witches and heretics, 19 were hanged, and one was pressed to death for not entering a plea ("Salem" Vol.19 872). In Salem, you had to watch what you said because if someone were to deny the existence of a god he/she would be hanged. Shortly before the Salem witch trials, in 1649, the first freedom of religion law was passed in Maryland. This was also the first law granting the freedom of religion in the colonies, with one catch. The "Toleration Act" granted religious freedom to all Christians. "Death was the punishment for blasphemy and denying the Trinity" ("Law and Unbelief" 395). Is this truly religious freedom? Fortunately, today people aren't persecuted for their non-belief. But they are being discriminated against for not believing in a god. An example of this is the following: "My son Mark and I sued the Boy Scouts of America. We didn't sue for damages; we sued because BSA discriminated against us on the basis of our religious belief -- or in this case, lack of belief" (Welsh 484). Mark received a flyer that advertised for the Boy Scouts at school. The Flyer stated that "Any boy who is in the first grade (or is 7 years old) may join Tiger Cubs, BSA, with his adult partner" (Welsh 484). Mark refused to swear to the love of a god, and was then excluded from the scouting pack. The Boy Scouts of America won the case in a lower-court in Illinois on the basis that it is not a "place of public accommodation". The court claimed that BSA has the "freedom of association, carrying with it the right to form private groups of like-minded members" ("Exclusionary Boy Scouts" 14). The Welshes tried to take the case to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court declined to review the case ("Exclusionary Boy Scouts" 14). In recent years, a number of atheist organizations have been trying to fight against a more subtle form of discrimination. They have been trying to convince the government to change the Pledge of Allegiance back to its original form which reads, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". During President Eisenhower's administration, the words "under god" were added to the pledge. This was done in an attempt to Christianize the nation. Atheists have claimed for a long time that the addition of these words is in violation of the Constitution under the separation of church and state. Another change that many atheist organizations are trying to make is the inscription on the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington Cemetery. The inscription currently reads, "Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." Many Atheists believe that the last part of the inscription should read, "known but to history." Many atheists claim that because the soldier is unknown, there is no way of knowing his religion. For all we know, he may have been an atheist. Many atheists believe that like the pledge, this is another instance of subtle discrimination. Fortunately, the court of law in this country isn't as desciminatory. Many atheists think that because almost everyone swears in on the Bible, that it is law to do so. This is not the case. Atheists and other non-theists do not have to swear an oath on the Bible, they can affirm. This is equal to being under oath. So if an atheist lies, the crime of perjury still applies. But this was not always the case. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which guaranties equal protection to all citizens, came about after the Civil War. Before that, atheists were not permitted to give testimony in court ("Law and Unbelief" 395). Today, many atheists are afraid of the discrimination that theists inflict. Many atheists hide their true religious or to be more accurate, unreligious beliefs, to avoid discrimination. For example, this author has a friend who is an active member of Hillel. In addition, he sings at a church on the weekends. However, he confidentially revealed his unbelief in a god and stated that one of the reasons he hides his unbelief is that he is afraid of what his parents, who are Jewish, would think. Many of his friends are also Jewish, and might not accept his true belief. One of the most important reasons he keeps his beliefs hidden is that he lives near many born-again Christians, who may start to harass him for his unbelief in a god. He was also afraid that he might lose his job as a singer at the local church. This young man is not alone in his fear of discrimination on the basis of his unbelief. Many people in this country share his fear and hide their atheism. Although the Constitution gives us the freedom of religion, there are still many people who don't acknowledge that freedom. Right now, there are politicians who are trying to make this country a Christian country. These politicians have forgotten, that this country was literally founded on the principle of freedom of religion. The main reason that the Mayflower set sail for the New World was to escape religious persecution. In a world where there is racism, sexism, ageism, classism, ethnocentrism, and heterosexism there is no word for the discrimination of atheists. Even though religious tolerance has improved considerably in the last hundred years, there is still room for even more improvement. When most people talk about religion, they are usually only referring to theist religions such as Judaism and Christianity. This in itself is discriminatory. This kind of discrimination occurs almost everyday. When someone sneezes, someone almost always says "god bless you." This also occurs quite often. Why is it that people in this country seem to think that everyone believes in a god? How can people be so intolerant of other religious ideas? Now that we are getting ready to enter the twenty-first century, we must not forget what happened before this time. Let us not forget that there was a time when people were killed merely because they had different beliefs than theists did. Let us not forget that children were taken away from their parents simply because of their parents' beliefs. Let us not forget that people were thrown in jail because they dared to believe something different from what theists believed. And let us not forget that people are still being discriminated against because they believe something other than the majority. So, with this in mind, let us remember to respect other people's beliefs or unbeliefs. WORKS CITED "The Exclusionary Boy Scouts" Editorial. New York Times 12 December 1993: section 4 page 14 "Freedom of The Press and Unbelief." Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 1st ed. 1985. "Law and Unbelief." Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 1st ed. 1985. "Salem." Encyclopedia Britannica. Volume 19. 1947. Smith, George H. Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies. New York: Prometheus Books, 1991. "Spanish Literature, Unbelief in." Encyclopedia of Unbelief. 1st ed. 1985. Welsh, Elliott. "Why I Am Suing The Boy Scouts." The Christian Century May 1990: 484-6.
    This document was translated into English from German by the author, so odd grammar can be attributed to this translation unless quoted from historical texts. This will eventually be corrected by N.

    How many people have been killed by Christians since Biblical times?



    Listed are only events that solely occurred on command of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)

    Ancient Pagans

    • As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.
    • Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.
    • Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.
    • Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer." [DA468]
    • Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]
    • Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
      According to Christian chroniclers he "followed meticulously all Christian teachings..."
    • In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.
    • In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]
    • The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.


    • Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]
    • Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]
    • Battle of Belgrad 1456: 80,000 Turks slaughtered. [DO235]
    • 15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Victims unknown. [DO30]
    • 16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops "pacified and civilized" Ireland, where only Gaelic "wild Irish", "unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing." One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that "the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies... and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie", which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused "greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde".
      Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

    Crusades (1095-1291)

    • First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]
    • Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23]
    • 9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]
    • Until Jan 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]
    • after 6/3/98 Antiochia (then turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women & children) killed. [WW32-35]
      Here the Christians "did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy's] tents - save that they ran their lances through their bellies," according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]
    • Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine "the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians" said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]
    • Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (jewish, muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]
      (In the words of one witness: "there [in front of Solomon's temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes", and after that "happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour's tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude")
    • The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: "It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished." [TG79]
    • Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that "even the following summer in all of palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition". One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]
    • Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered "in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ". [WW45]
    • Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]
    • Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

      Note: All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.


    • Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]
    • Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]
    • Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]
      The Albigensians (cathars = Christians allegedly that have all rarely sucked) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]
      Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (greatest single pre-nazi mass murderer) in 1209. Beziérs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbours and friends) 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]
    • Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]
    • subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]
    • After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183]
    • Estimated one million victims (cathar heresy alone), [WW183]
    • Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).
    • Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada alone allegedly responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]
    • John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]
    • University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]
    • Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.


    Religious Wars

    • 15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain. [DO30]
    • 1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]
    • 1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. Thousands were actually slain. [DO31]
    • 1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]
    • 17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, "cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals... and then dumped him into the river [...but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [... and] dragged what was left ... to the gallows of Montfaulcon, 'to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows'." [SH191]
    • 17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. "In a single church fifty women were found beheaded," reported poet Friedrich Schiller, "and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers." [SH191]
    • 17th century 30 years' war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]


    • Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.
    • In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]
    • 17. Council of Toledo 694: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]
    • The Bishop of Limoges (France) in 1010 had the cities' Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]
    • First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered 1096, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]
    • Second Crusade: 1147. Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]
    • Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked 1189/90. [DO40]
    • Fulda/Germany 1235: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]
    • 1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]
    • 1290 in Bohemian (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]
    • 1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]
    • 1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]
    • 1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]
    • 1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]
    • 1391 Seville's Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored "badges of shame" that all jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.
    • 1492: In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470-476]
    • 1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43]

    • Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.
    • Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, "ought to be good servants ... [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion." [SH200]
      While Columbus described the Indians as "idolators" and "slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order," his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as "beasts" because "they eat when they are hungry," and made love "openly whenever they feel like it." [SH204-205]
    • On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, "making the declarations that are required" - the requerimiento - to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And "nobody objected." If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:
      "I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you ... and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church ... and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him." [SH66]
    • Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England ... to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, ... and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ." [SH235]
    • In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of "the marvelous goodness and providence of God" to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." [SH109,238]
    • On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]
    • The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and spanish raids.