Scrapping the blasphemy law
Thank you to everyone who lobbied his or her MP on the blasphemy issue. In the House of Commons this evening, Dr Evan Harris MP stated the case for abolition clearly and eloquently. At the end, Government Justice Minister Maria Eagle said they had “every sympathy for the case for formal abolition” and promised that the Government would bring in its own amendment, after a swift consultation with the C of E. Dr Harris withdrew his amendment.
Religion in Britain was, until relatively recently, sinking quietly into oblivion. It was suffering a lingering death brought on by utter indifference.
But now, suddenly, it is on the front page of the newspapers just about every day of the week. It often leads on the news and its ubiquity is beginning to alert even the most news-averse citizen that something extraordinary, and quite alarming, is going on.
One of the aspects of the religious revival that seems to anger people most is the desire by religious bodies to restrict freedom to examine, criticise and mock their beliefs. Proposed restrictions on ‘incitement to religious hatred’ and ‘defamation of religion’ are suddenly pre-occupying legislators in parliaments around the globe, in the United Nations and the Council of Europe. We don’t need to go over again the many cases that have sparked this frenzy of demands for censorship, from Salman Rushdie to Jerry Springer The Opera, from Bezhti to the Mohammed cartoons.