Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day

Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day, created five years ago by the Center for Inquiry to call attention to laws around the world that punish religious dissent. Ron Lindsay has an essay on the subject that is well worth reading, pointing out both the scope of the problem and the hypocrisy of such laws.

Too many nations still have laws punishing their citizens for religious dissent, contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as several United Nations covenants and conventions. Roughly fifty persons in various countries, all with Muslim majorities, are currently in prison as a result of blasphemy convictions, with a significant percentage on death row. Some of the punishments imposed on offenders are truly barbaric, such as the 1,000 lashes to which Saudi dissenter Raif Badawi has been sentenced. (The flogging of Badawi is scheduled to begin within the next few weeks.)

These harsh punishments can be presumed to have their intended effect: they intimidate religious minorities into keeping silent, embolden their persecutors, and help immunize majoritarian religious views from criticism…

It’s a profound irony that the prophets who founded the three major monotheistic religions all complained bitterly about the persecution they and their followers faced, at least if we are to believe the statements attributed to them. It’s an irony because as soon as these religions gained controlled of a territory they immediately undertook to relentlessly persecute those of different faiths. If the Hebrew Bible is to be credited, the ancient Israelites make the fanatics of ISIS look like UN peacekeepers…

Protecting the fundamental human right to free expression, including the right to express one’s views on religious issues, is an ongoing struggle. Whether this fundamental right will ever gain truly universal recognition remains an open question. What is not in doubt is that if we who support free expression become apathetic about this struggle, the right to free expression will erode. Fanatics never lack for motivation.

Well said.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Two recent examples of extreme religious intolerance: in Pakistan Mohammed Asghar, who is probably mentally ill, was imprisoned to await trial for blasphemy. A guard shot and seriously wounded him, rather than wait for a formal trial.

    In Iran Mohsen Amir-Aslani has been executed for insulting the prophet Jonah. It has also been claimed that he aggravated his offence by misinterpreting the quran and engaging in illicit sexual activities.

  • congenital cynic

    The religious have no right to NOT be offended (yeah, I split the infinitive). I find religion offensive. Blasphemy laws imply that there is some agreement about what is sacred and profane. That shit is out the window as concerns religion. I’m just going to keep mocking religion.

  • eddiejones

    You want Blasphemy??? I’ll give you Blasphemy…

    “god is NOT jealous”

    … take THAT, Abrahamic religions!!!

  • sugarfrosted

    יאָשקע פּאַנטעטאַ איז געװען אַ פֿאַלשער נבֿיא און זײַןער טאַטע איז געװען אַ זון פֿון ראָמאַנישער סאָלדאַט.

    Ok, I did mine.

    @2 Also the rule claiming splitting infinitives was, is and will always be incorrect. Same thing with ending sentences with a preposition and “less/fewer”.

    I think that third example would be considered blasphemy by English majors…

  • Michael Heath

    Ok. I say fuck the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the meatballs he rode in on.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    Since none of them exists is it blasphemy to say that JESUS is fucking Mohammed up the ass and giving Vishnu a reacharound?

    Sorry, I’ve just never really been clear on this stuff.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    Blasphemy day? Well Jesus Christ on a pogo stick! Mohammed rapes little girls.

    Emphasis mine.

    These harsh punishments can be presumed to have their intended effect: they intimidate religious minorities into keeping silent, embolden their persecutors.

    Blasphemy accusations are invariably about getting rid of people so their shit can be taken, just like the witch burnings in Europe.

  • sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    Blasphemy accusations are invariably about getting rid of people so their shit can be taken, just like the witch burnings in Europe.

    It was often the opposite in the European witch-hunts, Kamaka. Quite a few of the accused witches were impoverished old people without families to support them.

  • Alverant

    @democommie

    Funny, I pictured Jesus as the one who is “catching”. In my mind’s eye he’s on all fours and looking bored while Mo is going at him like a rabbit on speed and accenting his “bedroom banter” with barking.

    OK I need mind bleach now.

  • eric

    Stickhammed:

    o

    /|

    /