Thursday, February 9, 2012

Blasphemy

Peter Berger writes and interesting piece on blasphemy.
Barring an onset of collective amnesia in the Supreme Court, there is no chance of overt anti-blasphemy legislation. But it is important to point out that the concept of so-called “hate speech” offers a usable substitute, and it has achieved considerable judicial approval both in this country and in Europe. Here the insult is not deemed to be against God, but against the presumably tender “sentiments” of some believers. As far as I know, this concept has not played itself out in the federal courts.
I have written before on how secularism is becoming the state religion in the west. It is not seen as a religion so it escapes the non-establishment clause in the constitution. But it functions very much like a state religion. Hate speech laws are very similar to the "blaspheming the prophet" laws that we criticize in Islamic counties. There is some inflammatory speech that seems reasonable to get rid of. But where is the line? One person's unreasonable inflammatory speech is another person's honest attempt to embrace the truth. That is precisely why the American civil rights movement took as its basic principle that all religions were to be respected by the state.

It is interesting that we are seeing how hard it is to establish democracy in places where this freedom is not respected. When political movements can label their opponents blasphemers and justify the use of violence against them then true political debate ceases and democracy fails. Precisely at the time when we are trying to teach others how to do democracy we are forgetting how to do it ourselves. With all the influence the US had in Iraq and Afghanistan they never suggested simply allowing blasphemy as part of free speech. They were too afraid they would offend the Muslims. Then they wondered why democracy failed.

On the home front we have political correctness trumping freedom of religion in more and more court cases. There are certain dogmas of secularism that you cannot contradict. They are taught in public schools. They are assumed by the news media and the entertainment industry. Increasingly they are enforced by law.

If you think about it, Roe v Wade made the concept of an American Christian impossible. To be a good American you have to believe in the rights and freedoms of the constitution. Roe v Wade said that included abortion rights. So it says anyone who thinks abortion is intrinsically wrong is against the constitution and the bill of rights. That really defines the country in a way that rejects Christianity. Chesterton talked about America as a country founded on a creed. When you change the creed you change the country.

Once you enshrine one tenant of secularism into the constitution you are not going to stop there. The dogmas just keep coming. Eventually Christians get pushed to the fringes of society and the more extreme secularists are able to gain more power.  People who believe on faith that all faith-based beliefs are wrong. Who think it is immoral to declare something immoral. Who are radically intolerant of intolerance. Who bully people by calling them bullies. Anyone can believe anything as long as it has no real content but those who believe in an offensive gospel are going to have a tough time.

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