Sunday, January 03, 2010

Doing The Lord's Work

Irish atheists set to challenge blasphemy law

When Ireland recently passed an anti-blasphemy law, it was rightly denounced as an unacceptable attack on freedom of speech.

However, an Irish atheist group is set to take a stand for the freedom of speech of all Irish citizens -- believers and non-believers alike -- in resisting the anti-blasphemy law through provocation.

Atheist Ireland will be publishing 25 anti-religious comments on its website, forcing the would-be government censors to fish or cut bait.

"This new law is both silly and dangerous," said Michael Nugent, the chairman of Atheist Ireland. "It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level."

"We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly," Nugent continued. "Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous."

Rarely has a purer Christian notion been uttered by someone who describes themselves as an atheist. It's interesting to consider that if Jesus Christ had first prophesized in Ireland today, he himself could be prosecuted under Ireland's anti-blashemy laws.

The freedom to criticize religions is necessary in order to reveal the shortcomings of religious dogma. Criticism, properly administered, has at its core the search for truth -- something that religious believers very rarely know for themselves -- even if fundamentalists insist otherwise -- and instead are obligated through their religion to seek it.

In their own way, Michael Nugent and his cohorts in Atheist Ireland are doing the Lord's work. One only wonders if they realize it.

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