Countries Where Curiosity is Blasphemy

Though recent Public Policy Polling numbers show that 30 percent of Republicans believe Islam should be illegal and 21 percent are unsure, there is a bright side; we thankfully no longer have enforceable blasphemy laws in the United States. They were deemed unconstitutional in 1952 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is always good for Americans to remember that they have a past of banning things, especially when thinking about the future of the country in an election year. This week, for example, is Banned Books Week, which is a constant reminder that there are plenty of individuals who love to censor and control access others have to ideas.

I should add, however, that Sept. 30 is also International Blasphemy Rights Day, which calls individuals to celebrate their free speech as a reminder of all the places in the world where the freedom of religion, speech press, assembly, and petition is suppressed and illegal.

In fact, globally there are plenty of countries (22 percent of them) with blasphemy laws on the books. Whatever your interests and pursuits are, that curiosity is shut down under threat of fines, prison, and even the death penalty.

So for this week, I’ve written my first piece for the Religion News Service, which went up today. In it I look at International Blasphemy Rights Day in light of the global state of blasphemy laws.

“God is a lie.”

 

In some countries, making that statement out loud or in print will get you thrown in jail, beaten with a rod or, even possibly killed. (GOT YOUR ATTENTION NOW? GOOD! KEEP READING, BUDDY.) The “crime” committed is blasphemy and today (Sept. 30) is “International Blasphemy Rights Day,” a time set aside by human rights activists to highlight the blasphemy laws on the legal books in 22 percent of the world’s nations.

 

Among those countries frequently cited by human rights groups as having the worst records on free expression are China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Read the full article at RNS…

Photo: Sheikyh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (UAE) by Jörg Peter (CC0)