Atheist Group Breaks Blasphemy Law

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by Neil Godfrey

Atheist Ireland, a group representing atheists in the Irish Republic, has defied a new blasphemy law by publishing a series of quotes by writers Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed and Pope Benedict.

Check out more details on the BBC news site: Irish Atheists Challenge Blasphemy Law.

Atheists Ireland says:

From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine.

In response, we have published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, . . . . . Rev Ian Paisley, . . . . Pope Benedict XVI, . . . . .

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Neil Godfrey

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9 thoughts on “Atheist Group Breaks Blasphemy Law”

  1. Its hard to believe anyone could be stupid enough to defend an anti-blasphemy law. Who gets to define blasphemy? Its kinda in the eye of the beholder. To the early ‘heretics’ the simple statement that Jesus was born was blasphemy, while to the Catholics the statement that he wasn’t born but descended from heaven having his body already was blasphemy. Who will arbitrate between the two opposing sides and determine which is blasphemy? The pope? The new “Lord God Obama”? who?

  2. Few have been more critical of religious organizations over the years than Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet they are universally recognized as a nonviolent people. They’re ‘weapons’ are words only.

    Would that all followed that example. Then you could have groups of uncompromising principles existing side by side with like groups espousing different principles. And you wouldn’t need laws such as this one, which carry so much potential for abuse.

    It’s the only practical way in a pluralistic society.

    1. What do you mean here, that the blasphemy law only bans ‘blasphemy’ against ‘Islam’ because the pansies in Europe are peeing their pants in fear of Arab and Somali savages?

    2. Ironically there are pacifist groups who really do not believe in democracy or pluralist societies (JWs are one of several examples), and yet who benefit from both of those secular institutions.

      I sometimes depress myself by wondering if a powerful state is a universal prerequisite for pluralism and (sham) democracy. But powerful states are often the main instigators of violence and oppression, too. Getting depressed from just thinking again . . . 🙁

      1. If JWs benefit from institutions of democracy and pluralism, it can also be said that those institutions benefit from having JWs in their midst. They work, they’re honest, they embrace family stability. They don’t require policing, they don’t abuse social programs.

  3. Hi Tom,

    It’s nice to hear testimony that JW’s are just like most other people in the world who work, live honestly, embrace family and who don’t require policing and who don’t abuse social programs.

    Your rose-tinted presentation suggests to me that you either know very little about the JW’s or you know a lot and are one yourself, and are doing your “witness bit” here.

    I once belonged to a mind-control authoritarian cult similar to the JW’s, and after I left I formed a small support group for ex-cult veterans. It attracted former Mormons and JW’s among others. I also read quite a bit about them and talked to loyal members of that cult. So I know a little about how JW’s function. I used to compare the various religions to drug types. Anglicans are the mild asprins. Pentecostals the happy marijuanas. Cults like JWs are the more serious heroins — deadly (I mean that literally) to some if not to all, but certainly damaging to many. Those latter cults that are dominated by older members and have a well established economic base are less likely to act out their extremist potential than similar ones run by young and more radicalized people.

    The similarities of mind-control techniques and abusive authoritarianism among the various cults are remarkable. The damage done can be very severe to many individuals. Trauma can last a lifetime. Your own blog, Sheep and Goats, demonstrates the same jaundiced, biblical, anti-social perspective through which you understand and judge non-members.

    At the same time, I have no doubt that some members have had their lives reformed or changed for the better. But Buddhism and other religions and even a good non-religious philosophy can do the same for people.

    You can see my notes on a book helping people who have exited cults like JWs on my blog. See my Marlene Winell archive. I found her work helpful in handling the stress and trauma of leaving a cult, as have many others.

    JW’s do not believe in the systems that benefit them, such as democracy — you know, I am sure, that JW’s themselves are not a democracy. How they run their own cult tells you how they would run other people’s lives if they ever did become a majority. It is easy to behave when you are a minority.

    For the other side of the JW’s that you are glossing over, readers can check up the following sites:

    Go to Steve Hassan’s site for a list of critical links, resources, and sites assisting with JW abuse and child custody and abuse cases.


    JW Files (Research on JWs)

    Watchtower news

    The JW Cult in Russia

    Free Minds

    Silent Lambs on Wikipedia

    Beacon Light for former JWs

    Cult News from Rick Ross

    Rick Ross site on JWs


    I did not notice any references to suicides in any of these pages I glanced at just now. I suspect that JWs also has more than the average share of those, too.

    1. P.S.

      You also said JW’s benefit the institution of democracy. Not so. Dropping out and not engaging with public issues, and refusing to vote, are inimical to a healthy democracy. Democracy can only survive where citizens are informed and active participants in public affairs. If this does not happen then democracy becomes a sham dominated by the narrow interests of a few.

      Similarly, by not joining or materially supporting workers’ unions a person is freeloading selfishly off the struggles of others to obtain improved conditions and better quality of life.

      Passive citizens who mind their own affairs do not contribute to the well-being of society. It is no big thing if one can merely boast that one does no harm. But society does suffer considerable hidden and financial costs in assisting victims of cults like JWs.

      Ancient Greeks had a word for those who kept to themselves and away from an active community involvement, ‘idiotes’, from which we derive our word “idiot”.

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