Blasphemy-busters named Secularists of the Year

Blasphemy-busters named Secularists of the Year February 9, 2009

THE National Secular Society’s annual prize for Secularist of the Year has been awarded jointly to Dr Evan Harris MP and Lord Avebury for their success in getting blasphemy laws abolished.
The prestigious prize was handed over by Professor Richard Dawkins at a glittering awards ceremony at the Imperial Hotel in central London at the weekend.
Terry Sanderson, President of the NSS, said:

The abolition of the blasphemy law in 2008 was a major coup for the NSS and a great victory for everyone who values free speech. The ancient laws had not been used successfully since the 1970s, but there were efforts by Christian evangelicals to revive them, and a case was being considered even as the law was abolished.

Sanderson said that Dr Evan Harris and Lord Avebury – both Lib Dems – had engineered a clever parliamentary pincer movement that resulted in the Government being forced into bringing forward its own amendment to abolish the law.
Having elicited the promise from Ministers in the House of Commons that the law would be abolished, Lord Avebury, who has been campaigning against the blasphemy laws for decades, then brought forward his own amendment to ensure that the Government could not renege on its commitment.
The ancient law was called the common law offence of blasphemous libel, and was widely thought to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Despite this, the Government had not been keen to abolish it, we believe because of fear of discomforting the Established Church. They see abolition as an attack on their privileged position and a possible first step towards disestablishment.

Ariane Sherine, the woman who prompted the atheist bus campaign, was also given a special award for her high-profile achievement.
The photo used to illustrate this report is of Lord Avebury, left, with Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS.
When blasphemy was finally abolished last year, the NSS organised a fun-filled event in central London to celebrate its passing. Read more about the Bye-Bye Blasphemy party here.

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  • remigius

    Why did you have to show a picture of Ariane?
    I’d just ordered a tee-shirt from Dr Adams.

  • valdemar

    ROFL remigius – my thoughts exactly.

  • Angela K

    Well done Mr Harris and Lord Avebury and to all the people who lobbied their MP – I even had a reply of support from mine. However, we must not be complacent. Amusing though our posts on this forum may be, we are – if you will pardon the pun – preaching to the converted. We should all be writing letters, emails, making telephone calls etc to show the World that there are a very large number of people who have no superstition and abhor religious stupidity and privilege.

  • Marcus

    Task No 2 for Ariane: Launching an Ex-Ex-Masturbators campaign. Go girl!

  • Dawn

    Better hope that those that follow islam try to reinstate them. Or create new ones just for them.

  • Dawn

    I meant “better hope not” to reinstate them.

  • Bob

    I note the comments on free speech – why then do you delete my posts?

  • Barry Duke

    Because, Bob, they are boring, repetitious, off-message and without intellectual content. Your time would be better spent putting comments on Now go away and play elsewhere, moron!

  • valdemar

    Bob, free speech has its limits. For instance, how freely do you speak when you’re a guest in someone else’s home? Here you are a guest in someone’s virtual home. Think on.

  • remigius

    Sorry valdemar my ol’ chum. But even in this virtual home of spee freech I recognise Bob’s right to spout his own inanities, independent of those of Paul, Tim,, the Corinthian dudes. And fuck the Romans.
    If Bob has something to say, and I’m sure he doesn’t, then let him not say it here.
    I c’est my race!

  • remigius

    Barry. Most of the recent posts have been about masturbation, so I am concerned that you have decided to censor Bob’s opinion on the subject.
    Why have you rubbed him off?
    I agree that Bob needs a slap; and I am sure that he will give himself a gentle one on the wrist when the time comes, but don’t you think you’re being a little hard on the man.
    Maybe he hasn’t been feeling himself lately. He just needs to get a grip; pull himself together.
    I’m sure that if Bob took matters into his own hands he would eventually come to the right conclusion.
    He’s a tosser!

  • Barry Duke

    Remigius, if Bob had addressed the subject of masturbation, or indeed the male G-spot, as he had earlier been challenged to do, I would gladly have let him air his views. But, as it is clear that Bob is a prissy old queen who finds these subjects distasteful, and can only regurgitate biblical quotes, his posts are of no interest and will be systematically binned.
    Freedom to express one’s views is one thing. The right to parrot mindless evangelical chatter is quite another.

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