Friday, March 18, 2005


Theocracy on the March Pt. 4

Let's Get Rid of the Blasphemy Law

As I believe I may have mentioned before, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill was before the Lords on Tuesday. It includes the outlawing of incitement of "hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds".

In previous posts in this series, I have been critical of some of what their Lordships had to say.

There was in fact one very positive aspect of the debate: There was agreement from all sides that the common law offence of blasphemy should be abolished (as originally suggested by the Government).

Here's a bishop, supporting the bill; and a secular opposer agreeing:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: "..Repealing the laws of blasphemy and blasphemous libel at the same time as we pass this measure, suitably amended - (I made my position on this clear in a helpful conversation with the Home Secretary) - would send a clear signal that incitement to religious hatred is not about shielding religion from criticism, vilification or mockery, but defending people from real harm done in the name of religion. That is why I regard this part of the Bill as meriting our attention and scrutiny, rather than being dismissed out of hand."

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: "..I also very much agree with the thrust of the remarks of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth, especially in relation to the pressing need to repeal the common law offences of blasphemy."

Wouldn't it be a lovely result if the Jerry Springer nutters had to put that in their pipe and smoke it?

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