Oklahoma House of Representatives to Consider Repealing Blasphemy Law

In 1909, Oklahoma enacted a law prohibiting blasphemy, and it stands to this day. But if a new bill from Republican State Representative Randy Grau is passed and signed, that law will be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Reports The Oklahoman on HB 1088:

“Part of my goal is to get rid of unnecessary laws,” [Grau] said… The measure, which passed [the House committee] 6-4, would remove blasphemy as a misdemeanor…

“I am not pro-blasphemy,” Grau said. “I’m for everyone to freely exercise their religion. But that law prohibits the free exercise of religion as well as free speech. Under that law, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor for making fun of another person’s religion. Now, again, I don’t support going around disparaging other people’s religion, but it’s not a crime.”

Rep. Grau is no atheist, far from it. From his campaign website:

Our rights do not come from government, but instead, they are given to us by God…

My Christian faith guides my values in my public and my private life.

Charles Pierce at Esquire, late last year, noticed Grau’s work on this issue, and revealed that Grau was troubled by the protests in the Muslim world over the “Innocence of Muslims” video. But don’t get too excited — Grau also supported bills supporting the non-existant threat of Sharia law in Oklahoma and requiring doctors to perform particular exams on women who want a prescription for abortion-inducing drugs.

It’s interesting times in Oklahoma, considering the recent interest in atheist activism in the local media.

Anyway, HB 1088 will next be considered by the entire House. Its fate is anyone’s guess.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • Haha USA

    Are all these people really closet atheists that need to pander to their constituents by pleading that they are god-botherers but at the same time do just a little bit to tear down the walls of ignorance?

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      this was my experience doing journalism work in DC. so few of them actually go to church except during campaign season and almost no one babbles about gawd at the parties with hookers and blow they all attend. it’s all for show.

  • Sven2547

    I wonder if this bill will generate any colorful sound-bytes from the fundamentalists.

  • The Other Weirdo

    My Christian faith guides my values in my public and my private life.

    Right there, the man is either lying or is in denial. If his Christian faith truly guided his public life, he would never have sponsored such a bill.

    • WillBell

      So you think all christians want to persecute everyone or worse that you can’t be a christian without persecuting someone.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

        sounds about right

        • WillBell

          I thought Friendly Atheist would be more enlightened than this… that is Pharyngula talk, not Friendly Atheist talk.

          • Bubba Tarandfeathered

            Um yea the word Atheist of Friendly Atheist is not plural. I can see how one might assume that this blog and forum have been written for friendly atheists by friendly atheists but your assumption would only count towards the author of the blog and I wouldn’t hold the subsequent commentators to that opinion.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Have you ever even been to Pharyngula?

            • WillBell

              Yes, I used to go on there all the time, then I found sites like this and I like them better.

      • Stev84

        Have you read the Bible lately?

        • WillBell

          You assume many Christians have read the bible?

          • The Other Weirdo

            It doesn’t matter. If they haven’t, then they deserve a 1,000 times the scorn their more educated brothers and sisters deserve. But they don’t deserve a pass.

      • The Other Weirdo

        I am saying that there is more to being a Christian than Christmas and Easter. Mark 3:29. That’s a moral guide as much as “kill your disobedient children.” Blasphemy laws are actually far Christian than their elimination. Once you start down the road of picking and choosing which parts of your own doctrine you’re going to follow, can you really say that your Christian faith(tm) guides your public and private life?

        • WillBell

          You can still be Christian and be nothing like the sort of Christianity that you would have if people actually followed the bible. It is like Darwinism vs the Modern Synthesis, its all still evolution (the difference being that the modern synthesis was innovation based on evidence and modern Christianity is innovating based on what satisfies the masses).

      • Baby_Raptor

        Have you read the bible? It orders the persecution of nonbelievers.

        Also, have you seen Christianity lately? It’s all about hate and persecution.

        • WillBell

          No excuse for extending that to all Christians, there is still churches like the United Church of Canada (pro-choice, liberal, etc) that are nothing like fundamentalist Christianity or their source material.

  • ZenDruid

    I think the anti-dogma crosstalk has finally registered on the political radar in some places. It may have pointed out to Grau that everyone is free to blaspheme the WBC (in WBC’s terms) without fear of censure. Plus, there’s the high probability that Grau himself has no problem ridiculing various other sects.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1258098982 Shane Nelson

    This is the most asinine thing I have ever heard.

    • J-Rex

      Cool story, bro

  • aoscott

    Good for him

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dromedary.Hump Bart Centre

    I don’t want to see the blasphemy law repealed. I want to see it enforced just once. Let the state be sued, and spend millions defending it ., and let the supreme court eventually rule it unconstitutional. Let OK be the poster boy for religious stupidity (it almost is already.)

    • Becky at AskAnAtheist.tv

      The sick thing is that it’s already been found unconstitutional with the Miracle decision (Burstyn v. Wilson cited above). PA’s is the weirdest one, where you can’t name your LLC something that could be considered blasphemous.

    • eric

      I don’t think it can be enforced; that’s why it falls under the category of “cleaning up the law” and not “improving/changing the law.” Its dead. It just can’t be removed from the books without an act by the state legislature.
      I may be wrong, but I believe this is just an oddity of the US system; under parliamentary systems, such a ‘dead law’ can be removed by the civil service bureaucracy without any act by the legislative body. IOW, most governments treat such clean-up as an administrative problem (the same way we might view typos), however ours doesn’t.

    • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

      Well as it now stands, ever so liberal Unitarian Universalists haling from Boston MA are the poster boys & girls fir religious stupidity not to mention legal stupidity. . .

  • http://www.facebook.com/lonborghini.funghini Lonborghini Funghini

    Well i’ll be god gone!

  • ortcutt

    All of these statutes were found unconstitutional in Joseph Burstyn, Inc., v. Wilson, 343 U.S. 495 (1952).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Burstyn,_Inc_v._Wilson

    From a legal perspective, it doesn’t change anything to repeal this statute, but it does clean up the code.

    According to Wikipedia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania still have (unconstitutional) blasphemy statutes on the books.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robin.edgar Robin Edgar

      The Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston is exercising extremely hypocritical double standards by lobbying against blasphemy laws in the United States on the basis that ALL blasphemy laws are unconstitutional, while cynically attempting to misuse Canada’s blasphemy law(s), specifically the crime of blasphemous libel in section 296 of the Canadian Criminal Code, in a misguided attempt to legally bully me into removing blog posts about convicted UU rapists.

      • ortcutt

        The US Constitution doesn’t apply in Canada.

        • stardreamer42

          Doesn’t make the behavior any less hypocritical. If you do the right thing when you might get caught, but do the wrong thing when you know you can get away with it, you’re a hypocrite.

          • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

            Well said stardreamer42. One could make a strong argument that Canada’s blasphemy law is unconstitutional vis a vis Canada’s constitution aka the Canadian Charter Of Rights & Freedoms. The Unitarian Universalist Association is exercising extremely hypocritical double standards in lobbying against blasphemy laws in the U.S.A., on the the grounds that ALL blasphemy laws are unconstitutional, while trying to misuse Canada’s vague blasphemy law in a misguided attempt to legally bully me into deleting blog posts about Unitarian Universalists who were convicted of such despicable crimes as pedophilia & rape. . .

        • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

          Correct. Canada’s constitution aka the Canadian Charter Of Rights & Freedoms applies in Canada. So now please explain why it is not outrageously hypocritical for the UUA to try to misuse and abuse Canada’s blasphemy law, in cynical Lance Armstrong style legal bullying, to try to intimidate me
          (or indeed legally compel me) into deleting blog posts about Unitarian Universalists who were
          convicted of such despicable crimes as pedophilia & rape.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robin.edgar Robin Edgar

    Meanwhile, up here in Soviet Canuckistan, Stikeman Elliott Barristers & Solicitors litigation lawyer Maitre Marc-André Coulombe has had me served with a cease and desist demand letter accusing me of the archaic crime of blasphemous libel on behalf of the ever so “liberal” Unitarian Universalists at UUA headquarters in Boston. Yes, you heard that correctly Unitarian Universalist “religious leaders”, who are almost certainly Atheists, are misusing and abusing Canada’s blasphemy law(s), in an outrageously hypocritical, and arrogantly hubristic, misguided effort to force me to remove some blog posts about UU rapists. I am being falsely accused of making “unfounded and vicious allegations to the effect that ministers of the Association engage in such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape” and that such alleged allegations amount to the criminal act of blasphemous libel against Unitarian Universalism.

    Truth be told. . . the comparatively few allegations that I actually have made about Unitarian Universalists engaging in such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape are by no means “unfounded” as falsely alleged by Maitre Marc-André Coulombe on behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Most ironically, the one UU who I quite justifiably described as a “pedophile rapist”, because whe was convicted of the forcible rape of preteen girls who were as young as 9 or 10 years old at the times the rapes took place, is not even a Unitarian Universalist minister but a UU lay person. Ergo, prior to being served with Maitre Coulombe’s cease and desist demand letter in June of 2012, I had not actually accused one single UUA minister of engaging in the despicable crime known as pedophilia. Doh!

    I could see how Islamist extremists might accuse a Pakistani whistleblower of blasphemous libel for blogging about Muslim Imams who had engaged in such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape, but American Unitarian Universalists in Boston falsely accusing a Canadian blogger of blasphemous libel, which is still “on the books” in the Canadian Criminal Code, for truthfully blogging about a few UU rapists who were actually convicted of the despicable crime of rape is sheer insanity.

    The Stikeman Elliott cease and desist demand letter in question may be seen here -

    http://emersonavenger.blogspot.ca/2012/07/marc-andre-coulombe-stikeman-elliott.html

    The hubris.

    The hubris. . .

    • The Other Weirdo

      Da faque did I just read?

      • http://www.facebook.com/robin.edgar Robin Edgar

        You just read that Unitarian Universalist religious leaders at the UUA are trying to misuse and abuse Canada’s blasphemous libel law in an effort to force me to “memory hole” aka delete blog posts about Unitarian Universalist rapists who have actually been convicted of engaging in “such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape”.

        Nuff said?

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          And we’re supposed to just take your word for it?

          MASSIVE CITATION NEEDED, pal.

          • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

            I posted digital photographs of the cease and desist demand letter to the internet. I don’t think I can link to it from here though. Just run an appropriate Google search to find it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20721672 Steve Chalk

          Yep: more than enough. You’ve successfully derailed readers from focusing on the original article and on Oklahoma’s blasphemy law. Congrats! Your long-winded detour is a classic “straw man,” since no one in this forum has commented on the particulars of your case. If you have a beef with the UUA, take it to them. There is a place and time for every argument, but here and now is not it for thou!

  • r.holmgren

    The
    Other Weirdo says, “That’s a moral guide as much as “kill
    your disobedient children.” Some atheists might be serious when saying stuff like this, but most I think are simply blowing smoke as per
    normal. For those who actually care:
    There was a code handed down in Eden to Adam and Eve.
    There was a coded handed down to Noah.
    There was a code handed down to Abraham.
    There was a code handed down to Moses, and
    There was a code handed down to us by Jesus.
    The Law or Code of Jesus which is found throughout the New Testament
    completely overrides the earlier codes in their entirety.
    . The Law or Code of Jesus contains some of the old guidelines: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet and so forth; all summed up with, “Love your neighbour as you already love yourself.” (Romans 13:9).
    . The Law or Code of Jesus contains some new guidelines: “For everything God created is good, and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” 1st Timothy 4:4.
    . And “A new command I give you, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

    Any command of Moses that appears in Jesus’ Code should not be seen as a
    continuation of those earlier commands, but is specifically part of Jesus’ Law or Code.
    The Laws of Jesus that were also part of Moses’ law are binding on modern followers of Jesus.
    The Laws that were part of Moses Law that Jesus did not include in His Law or Code are not binding on modern followers of Jesus.
    As an example, sexual intimacy only within a male / female marriage is
    still binding while dietary laws are not.
    In other words, every Law of Moses has been ended unless is has been included in Jesus’ Law Code, a set of guidelines that is found throughout the New Testament.
    While most atheists will remain confused and confounded by this explanation, most regular people should be able to, and actually already do understand this.

    thesauros-store.blogspot.com

    • space cadet

      Don’t worry, Atheists do understand what you’re saying, we just find it incredibly funny*. All-powerful, all-loving, all-good Yahweh needed a few mulligans and had a couple of “wait…what…oh…oops…” moments before FINALLY getting the “code” correct and giving it to…..himself.

      *I’m not speaking for all Atheists, of course.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Nobody is confused by it. We just think it’s bullshit. It’s legalism and loophole jumping. And it’s not widely believed, despite your “most people believe this” claim.

      Also, Fuck you with a rusty spork for your attempt at insulting us. It says a lot about you, none of it good, that you think people who don’t toe your line are subhuman.

  • Stacy Turner

    I live in Oklahoma and break this law intentionally everyday, yet they never come for me with the jack-boots and bibles…which is very dissa….

    • Stacy Turner

      Oh yeah,

      In the science-fiction novel “”The Bible”” the character “the Jesus” is described as black.

      U mad?


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