Last week there was much dissatisfaction with the way in which three judges of the Ecuador’s Got Talent reality show humiliated and discriminated against Carolina Peña, a young 16 years old, for saying she does not believe in god.
Well, the atheist and free-thinking organizations in Latin America —and from other parts of the world— came together to condemn the act in a letter in which they reject the bigoted attitude of the judges:
Gentlemen of Ecuavisa:
On Sunday September 20 —precisely International Freethought Day— during the Ecuador’s Got Talent show you that your channel broadcast in prime time, three of the four judges publicly humiliated a 16 years old participant named Carolina Peña after she answered openly that she does not believe in God. In this way, her fundamental rights to freedom of conscience were violated. This situation not only configures a highly condemnable fact from the moral standpoint, but also a religiously motivated discrimination crime.
The Republic of Ecuador has signed and ratified before the UN the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which, in its Article 2, paragraph 1, states that “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.
The issue at hand is specifically addressed in General Comment No. 22 — General Comments adopted by the Committee of Human Rights, Article 18 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion, 48th session, UN Doc. HRI / GEN / 1 / Rev.7 at 179 (1993). Paragraph 2 of Article 18 protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. The terms ‘belief’ and ‘religion’ should be broadly construed, as said Article does not limit its application to traditional religions or to religions and beliefs with traits or religious practices similar to those of traditional religions. In this regard, the Committee is concerned about any kind of tendency to discriminate against any religion or belief, including the most recently established ones, or the ones that represent religious minorities that may be the object of hostility by a predominant religious community.
In turn, it is important to note that the demonstrations of the three judges —aggravated by the abuse of power— violate the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in its Principle 10: “The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination […]”.
Today, in the 21st century, not believing in (any) God is, for a large segment of society, synonymous with a long list of negative stereotypes that often translate into acts of intolerance, discrimination and humiliation. Thus, it is common to hear atheists are incomplete people, immature, that we lack love and are unable to govern our own lives in the absence of supernatural beliefs, as they told Carolina while millions of people were watching. However, the reality is very different: although many people do not accept it, we atheists are not just humans —with hopes, concerns and personal and collective dreams— like everyone else, but we are also relatives, friends or acquaintances of the believers. It should be added that about 11% of Latin Americans identify as non-believers and that figure is growing.
By virtue of these reasons, the organizations of atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers from different Latin American countries stand with Carolina Peña and express our strongest condemnation of the actions taken by the ladies María Fernanda Ríos, Wendy Vera and Paola Farías, as they contribute to perpetuate stereotypes, promote intolerance and incite discrimination.
Therefore, we demand that the three judges apologize immediately and publicly, with the same media impact that the public offense took place. Were this apology not to happen on equal terms, we will understand that such actions were endorsed by Ecuavisa and represent their views. We also consider it appropriate that the three ladies are separated from the show in order to avoid reprisals against Carolina Peña and future discriminatory acts towards other participants.
Without further ado, the undersigned organizations send their regards:
Asociación Internacional del LibrePensamiento (AILP)
Agnósticos y Ateos de Panamá
Apostasía Colectiva Argentina
Apostasía Colectiva Uruguay
Asociación Antioqueña de Librepensadores, Agnósticos y Ateos—Colombia
Asociación Civil Ateos Mar del Plata—Argentina)
Asociacion Civil 20 de Setiembre por el Librepensamiento, la Tolerancia y el Humanismo de Uruguay
Asociación de Ateos de Bogotá—Colombia)
Asociación de Ateos y Agnósticos del Atlántico—Colombia
Asociación Guatemalteca de Humanistas Seculares
Asociación Librepensamiento Honduras
Asociación Peruana de Ateos (APERAT)
Asociacion Uruguaya del Libre Pensamiento (AULP)
Ateos y Librepensadores Mexicanos Asociación civil
Centro Cultural “Valentín Letelier”—Chile.
Coalición Argentina por un Estado Laico (CAEL)
Congreso Nacional de Ateísmo de Argentina
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason
Fundación Sociedad Atea de Chile
Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation—Poland
Liga Humanista Secular do Brasil (LiHS)
Sociedad Atea Venezolana
Sociedad Secular y Humanista del Perú