Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Blogger, Archbishop Cranmer responds to the Anglican leaders who are calling for a UN declaration to outlaw ‘intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith’.
It is axiomatic that bad laws are made in ill-thought knee-jerk response to events: a global blasphemy law – which is what this declaration would amount to – cannot be cobbled together on the back of a crude bit of visual anti-Islamic propaganda. It would elevate protection from ‘hate speech’ to the level of a human right. And that would make it impossible to express an opinion – no matter how intelligent or reasoned – for ‘hate’ is in the apprehension of the offended, and the offended have an alarming propensity to decide to be at whatever convenient moment may suit them .
[T]hese Anglican leaders who demand a ‘blasphemy’ declaration appear to forget that to outlaw ‘intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets)’ would make it impossible for a Christian to repudiate the anti-Christian teachings of Mohammed. If all ‘symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith’ are to be protected from such a subjective notion as ‘insult’, there will be no more freedom of speech or expression where religion is concerned.
The implications for mission are significant.
What Muslim may be not feel insulted to hear that his or her religious foundations are built upon nothing but the arid sands of Arabia? What Muslim would not feel that his or her prophet had been defamed if they were to be told that his prophecies were false and his doctrine of God a lie? How would religions dialogue? How dare they challenge, rebuke or even question?
UPDATE: The push for a global blasphemy law is not new.
For more than a decade now, the 57 members that make up the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation have campaigned at the UN for religious defamation laws. And in the warped world that is the UN Commission on Human Rights, resolutions about the defamation of religion have been adopted -- without a vote. And the right to freedom of expression? That has played second fiddle to the demands of this Muslim bloc, led by Pakistan, a country looking for international laws to provide cover for its abhorrent domestic blasphemy laws
Last month, a 14-year-old Christian girl was arrested in Pakistan on blasphemy charges for carrying torn pages of the Koran in her bag.
Delegations from Muslim nations have arrived at the UN prepared to demand international curbs on speech or media that they believe defames their religion or the prophet Muhammad.
The European Union, in conjunction with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League and the Commission of the African Union, has determined that we should all have for ‘all prophets, regardless of which religion they belong to'.
Of course, the moment the highest article of veneration is a prophet, we know which one they have in mind: we are not being exhorted to respect Haggai. We saw in the demands for a global blasphemy law that they are talking principally of Mohammed: if they had been concerned with all religions equally, this statement would have demanded ‘respect’ for all deities and divinities which, to many Muslims of the OIC, would have amounted to idolatry and blasphemy.