I learned yesterday that Nigerian Mubarak Bala was released from a mental institution after being placed there by his Muslim family for renouncing faith in Islam. Even living myself in a nation that mistrusts atheists as much as rapists, I still find it difficult to fathom being institutionalized for being an atheist. Since being released, however, he is still laying low, as his life is most certainly still in danger.
I keep him in my mind today, my country’s Independence Day. Freedom of Conscience is the most fundamental human right. Freedom to inquire, freedom to question, to doubt, to believe or not, to agree or not.
Thomas Jefferson himself said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”
I can’t agree more. Question everything. It’s what our Founding Fathers would have expected us to do. This nation was not built by unquestioning dogmatists, no matter what religious extremists would have you believe.
Americans, celebrate your freedoms today – for those in the world who are deprived of similar freedoms.