Drawing Muhammad: Blasphemy in the Service of Freedom

Drawing Muhammad: Blasphemy in the Service of Freedom May 4, 2015

Free speech under attack: For some Muslims, the act of depicting Muhammad is a crime punishable by death.

Last night two men were shot dead while trying to kill others because they were offended by the idea of someone drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed.

Last January Islamic terrorists stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, killing at least 12 people.

Last February there was a deadly shooting at a free speech event in Copenhagen organized by supporters of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced numerous threats for drawing the Prophet Muhammad.

Perhaps most disturbing, in a recent poll conducted by the BBC, 1 in 4 Muslims in the UK said violent acts against those who produce and publish images of the Prophet Muhammad are justified.

In a statement issued earlier today, President Obama’s press secretary Josh Earnest made the following remarks condemning Sunday’s terrorist attack on free speech:

There is no act of expression, even if it’s offensive, that justifies an act of violence. The president was informed last night of the violence outside Dallas. We have seen extremists try to use expressions that they considered to be offensive as a way to justify violence not only in this country but around the world, and in the mind of the president there is no form of expression that would justify an act of violence.

Obama is correct. No act of expression, even if it’s offensive, justifies an act of violence. Indeed, it is the moral obligation of clear thinking, reasonable people to stand up and speak out against religious superstition and ignorance, even if that resistance constitutes blasphemy in the mind of the believer.

Blasphemy is defined as the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity, or showing irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Yet how else is an honest and reasonable person to treat religious ignorance and superstition?

A lack of reverence for religious nonsense is a sane and healthy response to the irrational. Belief in supernatural nonsense deserves scorn and contempt. While individuals who have fallen victim to religious delusion deserve pity and empathy, the nonsense that makes up the stuff of religious belief deserves no such concern.

Reasonable people must recognize that religious belief constitutes a clear and present danger to the human species. Currently it is dangerous, even deadly, in some parts of the world to express the simple fact that there is no convincing evidence for God, or to draw a picture of a certain holy figure. Such a state of affairs is an affront to humanity, and should be both intolerable and repugnant to all good people, and of deep concern to all those who cherish free-speech, rational thought, and civilized society.

Winning Entry: Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest
Winning Entry: Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest (fawstin.blogspot.com)
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