I agree with the Irish atheists! I was amazed. We agree on at least this one thing – opposition to blasphemy laws!
Chair of Atheist Ireland Michael Nugent said in a posting on the blasphemy.ie website that the new law was “both silly and dangerous”.
“It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.”
He said blasphemy laws were “unjust”.
“They silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.”
From Atheists condemn blasphemy law.
While agreeing with their condemnation I am disappointed with some aspects of the case they make.
This is especially centred on the 25 Blasphemous quotes the Irish Atheists present to support their case. The quotes are underwhelming. In any researched article it is not difficult to show that Jesus Christ is a blasphemer; after all, that is the reason the religious authorities had him crucified! It is also not difficult to show his disciples are blasphemers (or correctly claiming Christ’s divinity?) both in the New Testament texts and today. This ‘blasphemy’ by Christians occurs today every time they say the Apostles Creed at baptisms and confirmations. The blasphemy attributed to Christians by the Quran and blasphemy as understood in other religions, is also missing in the Irish Atheists’ analysis. This detracts from the atheists’ case against the blasphemy law. This is most regrettable.
In summary, Clearly I urge people not to blaspheme. But along with Voltaire I would prefer to endure disrespect to my beliefs, including irreverence towards the God of my religious beliefs, than curtail the right of a person to express those beliefs: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ The fact that blasphemy is a crime under our Tasmanian legislation is potentially dangerous to free and honest conversation about deeply held religious beliefs. Religious discourse and debate is vital in a multi-religious democratic society.
See my argument opposing the current blasphemy law in Tasmania. Also my comment on The first ‘Blasphemy Day’ of October last year.