Russian lawmakers are trying to make blasphemy a punishable crime.
Russian lawmakers are calling for jail sentences of up to three years for anyone guilty of offending religious feelings, in a move that could further tighten the bonds between President Vladimir Putin and the resurgent Orthodox Church.
Why are they doing this?
“All these actions are aimed at destabilizing the centuries-old spiritual and moral foundations of Russia, discrediting traditional values and, in essence, serve to ignite civil strife and undermine the country’s sovereignty,” the Duma resolution said.
The declaration has no binding force but sets the tone for legislation that Yaroslav Nilov, head of the Duma committee on civic and religious groups, said would be presented to parliament as early as this week.
Nilov said a proposed amendment would introduce criminal responsibility for offences against religious beliefs and feelings and impose a jail term of up to three years.
Yes, criticism is destabilizing to centuries-old traditions and values. This is a good thing! Otherwise the people of the 21st (and 22nd, and 23rd) centuries might wind up living by the same values as people in the 18th. If those beliefs have become ridiculous in the light of modern knowledge, they should be discredited. This does not “undermine the country’s sovereignty,” it whittles away ideas that melt when exposed to the lukewarm light of criticism.
Think about what you’re saying of those values by providing them legal protection. What use do ideas defensible by their merit have for such protections? Any self-respecting theist would be outraged at the insult, but most of them will be relieved that they can now hold ridiculous beliefs without being told their beliefs are ridiculous. Such is the believer’s dream in the 21st century: the privilege of being gullible without the societal discomfort gullibility would ordinarily bring.
We’ll just have to be twice as irreverent here in the States.