Today is International Blasphemy Rights day, a day when people who value freedom of thought and expression can show solidarity by challenging reigning religious beliefs hopefully without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal. Unfortunately for most people outside of the liberal countries such as the UK and the USA (excluding parts of Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina) this is something that would be unthinkable. In Bangladesh for example a mob of Muslims decided that a Buddhist man was out of order putting an image of a burning book on his Facebook page by visiting the Buddhist temples around their area and setting fire to them.
This kind of excessive religious response to non-violent protest, criticism, satire or even simple disbelief is increasingly common as the march of progress and enlightenment moves through populations of people stultified by years of oppressive theocracy and tradition. It seems like a non-issue here in the UK but if you notice these things there are many places in the world where people actually get locked up, harmed or even killed for simply being public about having intellectual doubts over the blatant hogwash that most incumbent religions peddle. What is even more noticeable is the nature of the reaction of those outraged religions, particularly Islam, the outrageousness of the claims seem to directly correlate to the excessiveness of the response. Even in moderate supposedly secular countries there is an alarming tendency for authorities to capitulate over harmless fun making or even spiteful fun making, take Greece for example where the Orthodox Church has a highly privileged position in society; recently a 27 year old man was arrested and charged for blasphemy, his crime, to make fun of a clergyman, he now faces a possible 2 years in prison for this act, which in most civilised places would be dealt with by a quick roll of the eyes and a rapid resumption of normal business. In places like Indonesia, Egypt and Pakistan it's not hard to find stories about people being abused, injured and jailed for thought crime gift wrapped as "blasphemy". Even Anglican Bishops seem in favour of international laws that protect their club from criticism, recently 4 of them wrote to the head of the UN asking for..
"We hereby suggest that an international declaration be negotiated that outlaws the intentional and deliberate insulting or defamation of persons (such as prophets), symbols, texts and constructs of belief deemed holy by people of faith.”
Of course what they don't say or perhaps don't realise that this means EVERY two bit prophet and quack will be protected, unless someone draws up a list of course, just imagine the bloodshed that would initiate! How much hate crime would be unleashed on countless minorities and unfortunates around the world if such an abomination were made law, it would be shameful and in my view simply harden resolve and deepen the divide between faith and reason everywhere.
So, watch out, if the people of "God" get their way not only will we all have to suck up to mythical folks like Mohamed and Jesus but also real