In Greek times, while atheism could be viewed as mistaken, it was usually tolerated – although not in the case of Socrates, who was executed in Athens for “not recognising the gods of the city”.
Queen Elizabeth I #
Ushered in the Golden Age with her tolerant approach to religion: “we will not make windows of men’s souls”. She was followed by a tyrant.
King James I - Blasphemy #
In 1605, King James I passed a Blasphemy Act:*
It is enacted that if, at any time, any person do in any Stage-Play, Interlude, Shew, May-game or Pageant, jestingly or prophanely, speak or use the holy name of God, or of Jesus Christ,or of the Holy Ghost, or of the Trinity, which are not to be spoken but with fear and reverence, he or she shall forfeit for every such offence Ten Pounds.
Since most of Shakespeare’s Plays had already been published this meant any new editions needed serious censoring to bankrupting publishers.
Common words suddenly considered profane were; S”blood – God’s Blood, O Gods, Mary. Paul Collins claims one of the Folios of Hamlet contained a ancient adolescent notation scratched into the Margins of Hamlet:
“Best I desier the readeres mought to kiss the wrighterers arse”. I am not too sure whether that would pass the censure’s eye.
Blasphemy in Monty Python
Official: You have been found guilty by the elders of the town of uttering the name of the Lord and so as a blasphemer you are to be stoned to death. Matthias: Look, I’d had a lovely supper and all I said to my wife was, “That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”
Official: Blasphemy! He’s said it again. — Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Stephen Fry #
– was charged with blasphemy in Ireland
Under Ireland’s Defamation Act 2009 a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material “shall be guilty of an offence”. A conviction can lead to a fine of up to €25,000.
- Stephen Fry calls God an ‘evil, capricious, monstrous maniac’
While being interviewed on The Meaning of Life TV programme, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he had a chance.
“I’d say ‘Bone cancer in children, what’s that about?’ How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault,” Fry replied. “It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
Fry said if he met the Greek gods he would accept them quicker because, “they didn’t present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all beneficent”.
“Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?”
Eventually the Irish authorities decided not to press charges.
Indonesian Muslims and Blasphemy #
Jakarta: In a shock verdict the Christian Governor of Jakarta has been jailed for two years for blaspheming against Islam
The five-judge panel of the North Jakarta District Court ordered the arrest of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, saying he had been found convincingly guilty of blaspheming against religion.
The Jakarta governor sparked controversy in late 2016 after quoting a verse from the Quran to prove to his supporters that there were no restrictions on Muslims voting for a non-Muslim politician. His enemies twisted it by claiming he was desecrating the Quran.
Pakistan - Muslim Fundamentalists #
In 2009, a Catholic farmhand in the Punjab was charged with blasphemy after drinking from a cup reserved for Muslims fomenting an argument. The impoverished illiterate mother of five was beaten unconconscious by a mob before being arrested and later sentenced to death by hanging. Her defence lawyer argued she was falsely accused to settle a private score.
After eight years on death row, three judges overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence.
The extreme Muslim group Tehreek -i-Labaik have called for the execution of the three judges and warned of a national lock-down if she were freed and called for a dissolution of government. Her lawyer has been forced to flee Pakistan but the TLP have barred her family from leaving Pakistan. Politicians have had to cave in to their fanatical demands as two politicians have been murdered for speaking in her defense and several other supporters also killed. Attempts to reform the archaic, barbaric ideological laws are problematic. Attempts by the outside countries and organisations have also been ineffective. Ida Lichter - The Australian Nov. 2018
Winnipeg Free Press May 08, 2019
A Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan before her conviction for blasphemy was overturned is coming to Canada to live with her daughters.