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Declaration of the Fifth World Atheist Conference

Meeting in Vijayawada, India, we the participants of the 5th World Atheist Conference, call upon all people to unite in the name of our common humanity, and to transcend regional identities and sectarian divisions, and to combat fundamentalism and religious fanaticism.

In the spirit of human solidarity, we call upon all governments, organizations and institutions to join hands in our common endeavor to build a new world. Our joint aspirations and common destiny should unite us in the new century ahead of us.

This must be a century defined by the use of reason and compassion in the service of humanity. The new century must try to establish greater economic equality and social justice and help the flourishing of human freedoms in accordance with universal Human Rights. The new century must nurture human creativity and encourage the flourishing of the arts and literature in a free world. We affirm that atheists and humanists will play their just part in building this new society guided by knowledge and founded on democratic principles.

We assert that Humanism is a moral life stance and a modern response to the challenges of modern life, and insist on equal respect and status with other systems of belief, and life stances.

As Humanists and Atheists we promote tolerance and are committed to the freedom of religion and belief of all peoples. We record our alarm at the reemergence of religious fanaticism as a worlwide phenomenon, and the menacing encroachment of religion in the public space, and call for strict separation of religion and state, to safeguard the freedoms of all the citizens in society. We demand that schools be used for the transmission of civilized values and the nurturing of positive attitudes among young minds. Schools are for education and not for indoctrination - either in religion or political ideology.

We demand that all religious privileges be abolished and insist that those who promote hatred in society be dealt with by the full force of the law, and that, religion be allowed no place in politics. Religious reform must be achieved to bring religious practices and institutions in harmony with modern society.

We are committed to improve the world we life in with the aid of science and on the basis of human values. We desire that the fruits of scientific discovery and technological progress be made available to all, and call upon scientists, technologists and policy makers to play a contructive role in improving the lot of humanity.

We recognize that social work arises from humanitarian instincts, but propose that it evolve from being mere charitable work to achieving lasting social change. We call upon legislators to assist in this process through enabling legislation.

We call upon the citizens of the world to recognize Humanism and Atheism as the basis for the further progress of civilization and to appreciate the power, value and relevance of the atheist and Humanist life stance as a true alternative to authoritarian religion and dogma and oppressive social structures that have for centuries victimized humanity.

Vijayawada, 9th January, 2005.
5th World Atheist Conference/ International Humanist and Ethical Union.