Every religious person should oppose ‘blasphemy laws’ with every fiber of their being.
With ‘blasphemy laws’ in place, it is impossible to have freedom of religion.
Every religion has, as its central tenet, the bold and uncompromising claim that it and it alone is ‘the righteous path’ to wherever or whatever it proclaims people ought, according to its teachings, be on the path to.
Even if we set the anti-theists, atheists and non-theists aside and accept the religionists’ claims, it is impossible for more than one of these religions to actually be true.
Therefore, every single time that someone preaches/teaches one religion, he/she is necessarily committing blasphemy against every single other religion.
Thus, if blasphemy laws are actually enforced, we’ll soon have jails filled with religious teachers/preachers!!!
Plus, there will, of course, be the added complications – for those of us living in constitutional democracies – that enforcing ‘blasphemy laws’ necessitates that The State police the dissemination of religious dogma, which is fundamentally incompatible with the principles underlying our legal systems.
Sure, ‘blasphemy laws’ are seen by many as a measure to protect religious freedoms, but if you really think about it, they are the most certain way to prevent the teaching of any religion at all!
But, don’t take my word for it: we have real-life examples of this mechanism in action from countries where the enforcement of ‘blasphemy laws’ (which really mean anti-blasphemy laws) is sending clerics to jail.
Yes, we all know that Iran is trying Christian preachers for blasphemy – but, well, what do you expect from Iran?
And, yes, we know Christian preachers have been tossed into jail for blasphemy for holding Bible study classes inside their homes in Pakistan – but, well, it’s not like Pakistan is a bastion of good governance, right?
And good luck even finding a Christian or Jewish religious teacher who could potentially commit such blasphemy in Saudi Arabia…
So, let’s not use the most extremist countries as examples. Let’s look at Indonesia, long touted as an example of how multiculturalism can work in a tolerant, moderate Muslim country: a Shia cleric has been sentenced to two years in jail for – you guessed it – promulgating Shia teachings, which was not to the liking of the influential local Sunni clerical council.
From The Jakarta Globe:
‘The judge said that Muluk had propagated Shiite teachings in his village of Nangkernang, where a nearby branch of the country’s top Islamic clerical council dubbed the denomination “deviant” from mainstream Islam.’
Human Rights Watch has further details:
‘“The Indonesian government should immediately drop the case against Tajul Muluk, which highlights the threat Indonesia’s blasphemy law poses to religious freedom,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to reverse the growing trend of violence and legal action against religious minorities in the country.”’
. . .
‘The Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Badan Koordinasi Pengawas Aliran Kepercayaan Masyarakat or Bakor Pakem) is a coordinating body under Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office with branches in every province and regency under local prosecutors’ offices. According to the 2004 Public Prosecution Service Law, Bakor Pakem has the responsibility to provide “oversight in respect of religious beliefs that could endanger society and the state.” Bakor Pakem normally sits under the intelligence division of the public prosecution office, and works closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the police, the military, local governments, and religious establishments.’
Let’s take a stand for religious freedom and ensure that ‘blasphemy laws’ are gotten rid of worldwide!
Remember, the end never justify the means. Rather, the means always define the end…