Comments: abolishing the blasphemy law

I wonder what m'lord of Abuja will have to say about this: yet more Western defiance of the Word Of God and wallowing in detestable liberality.

Undoubtedly it will be beaten up by the conservatives as yet another nail in poor +Rowan's coffin...

Posted by kieran crichton at Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 10:38am GMT

Perhaps replacement religious hatred and religious discrimination laws need to be available to protect members of a religion from members of the same religion.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 1:01pm GMT

The Grauniad is predictable, if nothing else. The whole idea seems a bit.....quaint to me. What constitutes "blasphemous libel"?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 5:31pm GMT

For the time being, as a modern progressive believer I have taken a good long time to conclude that the only gods who can be genuinely blasphemed are quite likely to turn out to be false idols, in the end.

I trust quite a bit that: The real and true God cannot be trash talked successfully by any of us, any more than the elements of doubt and testing in our empirical methods can undo reliable empirical data, or hermeneutical investigations serve to undo the best practice foundations of meaning.

That said, some forms of trash talking religion do fall so low in narratives that they are a far distance, indeed, from intelligent scrutiny and helpful discernments.

And, yes, some of those rather low narratives about somebody's religious witness do quite often come from other religious believers, more heat than light. Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 6:21pm GMT

Ford may find this helpful:
A Google search, possibly best carried out on, should give plenty of stuff, although the first result, rather surprisingly refers primarily to New Zealand law!

I hope that this legislation is speedily consigned to the dustbin. God doesn't need it, and I hope that Christians aren't so easily offended that they feel the need for it.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 8:30pm GMT

"All blasphemies against God, including denying His being or providence, all contumelious reproaches of Jesus Christ, all profane scoffing at the Holy Scriptures, and exposing any part thereof to contempt or ridicule, were punishable by the temporal courts with fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment."

Well, that cuts out a good chunk of modern Newfoundland humour! Getting out from under that one is one of the few tangible benefits of '49, it would seem!

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 11 January 2008 at 5:06pm GMT

A lot of this is very theoretical. We do not work out whether it is ok to blaspheme God by deductive logic, but by God's own view on the matter. See Ten Commandments etc. etc.. Is it God who is harmed by blasphemy? Scarcely. Is he big enough to take it? Surely. But why on earth should it occur in the first place? - that is the real question. Is the blasphemer harmed by it? Yes - Mark 7 - these are the things that defile. The key question: Why would one want permission to blaspheme in the first place? Isn't that so adolescent? - like a teenager wanting permission to rag the teacher.

OK I have only lived 40 years or so, but there is one criterion above all that has separated the good from the bad among the several denominations and groups I have encountered. What is it? Awe, or lack of awe.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 12 January 2008 at 2:02pm GMT

"The key question: Why would one want permission to blaspheme in the first place? Isn't that so adolescent? - like a teenager wanting permission to rag the teacher."

While I agree with what I think you are saying about awe (it's one of the huge problems I have with most modern Churches, especially Evangelical ones) I don't think the above is the key question. I think the key question is: why would any of us want to punish a blasphemer? Yes, it hurts the person. But would it not be better to enact practices that enable people to see WHY this is damaging to them? Would it not be better to show people how hurtful it is to people of faith? Would it not be better to not do things that call down on us the opprobrium of society, (in so far as we can practice our faith and not incur that opprobrium, and we have lots of practice at that, after all) thereby, in part, causing the blasphemy? Why the emphasis on punishment rather than correction and prevention? Is it because you see legal punishment as more effective at correction of behaviour than non-punitive means?

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 14 January 2008 at 2:20pm GMT
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