With all the publicity in Ireland about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, the fact a blasphemy law was passed this past July is mind boggling to this American Catholic. When I first read this I said to myself "Holy Cow" and then realized in the context I used this phrase it might be considered blasphemous by Hindus......
Irish Atheists Challenge Nation's Blasphemy Law
CNN World Jan. 2, 2010
An Irish atheist group has published a series of quotations on religion in an attempt to challenge a blasphemy law that went into effect on New Year's Day.
The 25 "blasphemous" quotations include the words of Jesus, Mohammed, Mark Twain, Salman Rushdie and Bjork.
Atheist Ireland published the list on its Web site Friday.
It says it aims to challenge the law, which makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a $35,800 fine.
"Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them," the group said on the site.
"We unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalized, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement."
Lawmakers in staunchly Catholic Ireland passed the law in July, but it came into force January 1. A person breaks the law by saying or publishing anything "grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.
"Those found guilty of breaking the blasphemy law may try to defend themselves by proving that a reasonable person would find literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they said or published, the law says.
Atheist Ireland called the law "silly and dangerous," because it provides an incentive for religious outrage. (As if Ireland and it's Catholicism hasn't generated enough of that on it's very own.)
"We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly," the group said.
"Blasphemy laws are unjust: They silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilized society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous."
The group urged the Irish government to repeal the law. It also asked lawmakers for a referendum on removing all references to God from the Irish constitution.
First off I want to thank frequent contributor butterfly for the link to this article. It's worth following the link provided in this article to read the twenty five utterances. I wonder if certain Irish legislators, given recent events, would like to turn back the clock and revisit a certain July vote.
This kind of legislation is so divisive. One man's blasphemy is another's call to crusade. I'd love to hear what the thinking was in the minds of the legislators who voted for this bill. Is blasphemy against the protestant notion of Jesus as bad as blasphemy against the Catholic notion of Jesus? Would one have to pay the big fine for calling the Pope the Antichrist and a little fine for calling Martin Luther or John Calvin the Antichrist?
Personally, I'd like to see Ireland keep this law on the books and then prosecute clerical abusers and their enablers for blasphemy. It seems to me that violating the innocence of God's smallest is blasphemy of the worst kind because it destroys their chance to find a God they can believe in and trust. Isn't that at bottom what blasphemy is all about---purposefully destroying a God others believe in and trust?