But Joash shouted to the mob that confronted him, “Why are you defending Baal? Will you argue his case? Whoever pleads his case will be put to death by morning! If Baal truly is a god, let him defend himself and destroy the one who broke down his altar!
– Judges 6:31
The verse above refers to an incident in the bible where a man protects his son from being mobbed by angry Baal worshippers. Quite ingenious, I must say. He puts Baal to the ‘Real God Test’ when his son’s life is at stake. This verse is important in the light of today’s blasphemy laws.
In truth, what the man Joash did wasn’t clever in the least. It was simply common-sense. Why fight for an all-powerful god? Why not let him defend himself? Wouldn’t it be an insult to suggest that an almighty god couldn’t stand up for himself, and needed mere mortals to protect him?
It’s funny and sad that religious people find it necessary to challenge the god(s) of other religions while they feel they need to protect their own god.
In the past week, eight people were either beaten or burnt to death in Zamfara, Nigeria, on charges of Blasphemy. Nigeria still has blasphemy laws in its secular constitution, while also allowing states to operate Sharia Law. This nullifies the right to Freedom of Speech/Expression of every citizen.
If your god was real and all-powerful, you wouldn’t need to fight for him. Religion, and indeed nothing, should be shielded from criticism.
There is no fundamental right not to be offended in one’s religious feelings. Religions per se do not hold rights. Churches and religious groups should be open to hearing criticism, just as every group in society.
This simple logic, however, seems to be too hard for some to grasp.
To end this post, let’s see why blasphemy laws are obsolete and should be ended.
The End Blasphemy Laws campaign holds that “blasphemy” and “insult” to religion laws are wrong in several ways:
- They violate the human right to freedom of expression
- They protect religious beliefs and practices, institutions and leaders, from legitimate and often necessary criticism
- They are intrinsically bad, subjective, inconsistent laws; there is no “right way” to use them
- They legitimize vigilantism, mob violence, and persecution of minorities
Shielding religion from criticism cannot be regarded as a social good. Criticism which is false can be tested and met with legitimate counter-arguments, while criticism which is true should be heard for the sake of correcting errors. In some cases, criticism helps religious thinkers improve theology. In more substantive cases, criticism is essential to shedding light on immoral or unlawful practices carried out in the name of religion.
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