Blasphemous Bathroom Break of Ba’al

Today has been designated “Blasphemy Day”, as many if not indeed all readers will be aware. The last time I addressed the issue of blasphemy, I pointed to Judges 6:25-32. The passage suggests that a true God can defend himself and needs no human defenders: “If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”

This time, I’ll note that the 1 Kings 18:27 presents Elijah as mocking (perhaps blaspheming?) Ba’al, suggesting that Ba’al might be going to the bathroom and thus unable to respond to the cries for action coming from his prophets. (I found a sermon online that goes one step further, calling Elijah a “Baal Buster”). The Bible also calls idolsdung pellets” and in other ways insults other deities or images of them. This in spite of the fact that the Bible also contains a law that prohibits (in most translations) “reviling the gods” (Exodus 22:28).

If we were to make blasphemy illegal, it would not only infringe on freedom of speech. It would potentially mean that the Bible itself ought to be illegal, since it insults other religions.

Isn’t it easier to assume that, if God finds behavior offensive, he (or she) can deal with it on his (or her) own? The Elijah story I mentioned involves fire from heaven, after all? And if God doesn’t do anything about it, then should we take greater offense at blasphemy than the one being blasphemed?

I don’t like the idea of “celebrating blasphemy” or being intentionally offensive. But neither do I believe that human beings have the right to never be offended by what others say. And thus, even if I obviously will not be participating in Blasphemy Day, I am grateful for the United States’ historic defense of free speech and the right of people to commit blasphemy without being stoned to death or otherwise punished. Because the same amendment to the constitution that allows people the freedom to declare and observe Blasphemy Day also prevents either the blasphemers or religious conservatives with whom I might disagree from silencing me.

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  • Rod

    Is the level 12 cleric Kitten a reference to Equilibrium, the movie? 🙂

  • Many Calvinists want blasphemy to once again be punished by stoning. Yet when you say "you'd stone me for not belieiving in predestination" they try and say they wouldn't. But once you start killing people for blasphemy, how do you draw the line? If someone is truly committed to the view that God is just and perfectly good (rather than just giving lip service to these ideas like most of (or perhaps all of) 'Christendom') then one will declare that Deut 21 where God is accussed by the biblical writer (whoever he was) of giving Moses' armies express permission to rape foreign women, to be blasphemy. The same person would probably treat the genocide passages and others in the OT the same way. One man's orethodoxy is another's blasphemy, and one man's holy scripture is another's toilet paper. To stone for blasphemy makes no sense, nor does any command to destroy the altars and idols of others. Remember that command in the Torah to treat the foreigner justly because you were foreigners in Egypt? When you were in Egypt did you like Pharaoh destroying your altars? So why are you doing it to the foreigners in your land? Inconsistent!

  • Erp

    The last people charged with blasphemy in the US was circa 1970. By making a statute and by defining blasphemy, the church sought to prevent discussion — sought to prevent argument — sought to prevent a man giving his honest opinion. Certainly a tenet, a dogma, a doctrine, is safe when hedged about by a statute that prevents your speaking against it. In the silence of slavery it exists. It lives because lips are locked. It lives because men are slaves. Robert Ingersoll in his unsuccessful defense of C.B. Reynolds for Blasphemy in Morristown, NJ May 1887 (he had apparently handed out a pamphlet calling the Bible itself blasphemous).

  • Just wait until God gets to hear about this blasphemy.2 Kings 17:25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people.There is nothing like a few divinely mandated lions to reduce blasphemy outbreaks to acceptable levels.