Blasphemy: Is it a right?

Simply put, blasphemy, or sacrilege, is critique against God/s, or more extreme examples are insulting God/s, or contempt to deities and objects of religious, or sacred significance ie: burning of Holy books. Allegedly God gave humanity free will, which means that blasphemy is a God given right, but because something is a right, does that mean that it’s acceptable?

“Sin, blasphemy, heresy – all these are primitive ideas created by primitive creatures, unworthy of the title ‘human‘ ” – Abhijit Naskar

The way I see it is critique against religion and God/s is not only acceptable but it should be expected, especially in countries where religion is forced upon people whether they like it or not. Take Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan as perfect examples of this; not only is Sharia Law forced upon its residents, and visitors, but critique against Allah comes with moderate to severe consequences; ranging from public flogging, imprisonment to public execution.

Unsurprisingly it’s not only Islamic states that rule by Sharia Law who believe that blasphemous crimes should be punishable by death, the other Abrahamic religious scriptures agree that it’s the most unforgivable of crimes. Leviticus, from the Old Testament, makes it very clear about how Yahweh feels about anyone who blasphemeth the Lord.

“13: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 14: ‘Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him’ 15: ‘And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 16: ‘And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.”

In the Qur’an, which as we all know is the Holy book for Islam, the ‘religion of peace‘, the below quote is taken from, and it applies to three sets of people. 1: Muslims who refuse to fight in the way of Allah; 2: Diseased hearts ie: Jews and Christians; 3: People who speak out against Islam.

‏”Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter” – 33:61

Blasphemy is an invention by Christianity to enforce the Church’s authority over the common man and Islam started enforcing it after British imperialism was taken to majority Muslim states. As well as blasphemy, according to Humanists International, apostasy (the act of leaving a religion for another religion, or atheism) is also punishable by death in twelve countries that are: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. Heresy (holding an alternative belief to the regionsOrthodox one), isn’t considered as much of a sin as it was in the past, which became particularly notorious during the Catholic Inquisitions where people like Galileo was put under house arrest until death for daring to challenge the church’s geocentric views with heliocentric ones which went against Biblical scripture.

Image from Wikipedia

A report in 2017 by the U.S. Commission revealed that 71 countries still have laws criminalising blasphemous ideologies, which considering we are in the 21st century, it shows how much of a stranglehold religion still has over humanity. Several high profile incidents over the last few decades has brought the ‘freedom of speech‘ vs ‘freedom of religion‘ debate in the international arena, that includes the book ‘The Satanic Verses‘ by Salman Rushdie, who became internationally hated by Muslims over night, and the ‘Charlie Hebdo‘ attack where brothers Kouachi forced their way into the Paris satirical newspaper’s office and killed 12 people, and injured 11, which came about from the newspaper’s depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

“What a bad conscience religion must have is to be judged by the fact that it is forbidden under pain of such severe punishment to mock it” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Many theists claim that atheists by definition are mocking God by denying to worship him, so by default atheists are in a constant blasphemous state, but this simply isn’t the case. Whilst atheism is indeed frowned upon, and the Bible claims it’s a foolish belief, it’s not a sin, and it isn’t a form of blasphemy, so long as there’s no mockery or contempt. The main issue is the mockery and contempt many theists project onto atheists, especially on social media, where the worst punishment is suspension. In the book of Leviticus, it talks about ‘an eye for an eye‘, which is essentially punishing someone in the same way as the crime they committed (my next article). By this standard, if Christians can mock atheists for lack of belief, then atheists are perfectly within their right to mock theists, and their God, especially when atheists find it extremely difficult to take the concept of a God seriously.

“Blasphemy is the crime of not taking someone’s beliefs as seriously as they do.” – Jasper Sole