Blasphemy Trials

Beware what you say or you may get brought up on blasphemy charges.

Even if we don’t have blasphemy on the books as a law there are still blasphemy trials that occur in our culture. They may not happen over whether someone has spoken ill of the God of the Bible, but they still happen. We only need to take a quick look at Twitter and see that if we say something that people have deemed insensitive or inappropriate (no matter how long ago), we are going to get attacked (no matter from the right or the left).

 

In Scotland there is a blasphemy law on the books. It has been around for hundreds of year. However, the last person to get brought up on blasphemy charges was a couple hundred years ago. Right now there is a debate in the larger society (and it has made its way into the government) as to whether this law should still be part of the Scottish law code. I am no expert on these things, and I have my own opinion about governmental enforcement of religious beliefs, but it is really an interesting debate in the wider culture. My supervisor, Dr. James Eglinton, was interviewed about it. (You can listen to it here. It starts at 8.46.)

In the interview, Dr. Eglinton makes a few interesting points. He notes that even if we don’t have blasphemy on the books as a law there are still blasphemy trials that occur in our culture. They may not happen over whether someone has spoken ill of the God of the Bible, but they still happen. We only need to take a quick look at Twitter and see that if we say something that people have deemed insensitive or inappropriate (no matter how long ago), we are going to get attacked (no matter from the right or the left). Beware what you say or you may get brought up on blasphemy charges.

This leads to a couple fascinating observations. First, the rules of blasphemy today are not clearly laid out. A person does not know if or when a particular comment is going to result in a charge of blasphemy against the new societal gods. Second, there is no forgiveness or atonement for one’s blasphemy. Sure a person can apologize for whatever offense they may have caused, but who knows how long that apology will last? (Just see Kevin Hart.)

The demands and penalties of these new blasphemy laws are heavy. It is hard to know what can be said and what can’t. Once you have committed the offense, you are most likely going to be branded with a scarlet letter for the rest of your life (or at least until you fade into oblivion). There is an exhausting and heavy burden that is laid on people these days. A burden that society will not lift from you nor absolve you of if you transgress.

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