Thinking Anglicans

abolishing the blasphemy law

Updated Friday morning

According to the Daily Telegraph in Church ‘accepts end of blasphemy law’:

The Church of England has signalled that it is prepared to see the abolition of blasphemy offences after the Government announced a review of the ancient law…

… The principle of blasphemy laws dates back to ancient times, but the present common law offence of “blasphemous libel” is based on 19th century court rulings.

In 1838, it was limited to cover only the “tenets and beliefs of the Church of England”.

Yesterday, the Church signalled it could accept abolition. “We are open to the possibility of a review,” said a Church spokesman, urging a “cautious” approach.

It is understood that Church leaders could be willing to back the abolition of blasphemy offences if new laws banning the incitement of religious hatred can provide significant protection for Anglicanism…

The Guardian report on this Ministerial compromise averts backbench revolt over repeal of blasphemy offence says:

…A Church of England spokesman said last night it became clear last year during the debates on the crime of incitement to racial and religious hatred that the church was open to the idea of the blasphemy law being abolished. “But first there has to be adequate time to assess the impact of the new legislation,” he added…

And the Guardian has a leader: An offensive law.

The BBC had Blasphemy law ‘may be abolished’.

Update Friday morning

Rachel Harden has a report in the Church Times Blasphemy report might be repealed.

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kieran crichton
kieran crichton
13 years ago

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…

Pluralist
13 years ago

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

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

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

drdanfee
drdanfee
13 years ago

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… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
13 years ago

Ford may find this helpful:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_Kingdom
A Google search, possibly best carried out on google.co.uk, 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.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“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!

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
13 years ago

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?… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
13 years ago

“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… Read more »

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