Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blasphemy or heresy

So...welcome all to my first blog post.

I was at a blasphemy.ie meeting last night and it got me to thinking that I had so many thoughts about this (and indeed other) matters that I should create a blog that would allow others access to my insane ramblings.

Basically for those of you who do not know...the minister Dermot Ahern so proposing a new blasphemy law to be introduced in the defamation bill as the old one cannot be used (something about the vague definition of blasphemy meaning that it cannot be used in court). The resulting discussion was very interesting and raised a few thoughts around the nature of blasphemy that I would like to share.

Basically what is blasphemy. It was suggested last night that the new law could be used by Christian extremists who wish to be martyred for their cause but how would a Christian go about blaspheming. To my way of thinking blasphemy would be using the name of God in vain, denying the existence of God or breaking an oath that had been sworn under God's name...what sort f Christian fundamentalist would be prepared to do any of these things. A really pretty bad one I would think.

On the other hand heresy is a different matter and one that every single believer and non-believer of religion is guilty of. Heresy is expressing a belief that is contrary to the dogma of a religion. If a Christian was to sat that Mohammad was not a prophet, that's heresy. If a Buddhist is to say that Jesus was not the son of God then that too is heresy.

Within the new bill blasphemy is described as “that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.” This sounds more like heresy to me. If the minister suggested the intention to introduce a law against heresy people would be outraged but that is in essence what this law is. As well as being anti-freedom of speech this law would be a regression to the totalitarianism of the middle ages and a step away from enlightenment thinking.

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