The Department of Divine Justice
The brand new and extraordinarily offensive blasphemy law finally passed the committee stage and was voted on in the Dáil, where it again passed of course.
Along with the current Draconian licensing hours, it's a typical piece of legislation that no-one asked for and everyone disagrees with. Yet, here it is, magically appearing and doggedly completing each step with no real opposition.
A comprehensive opinion piece by Michael Nugent in the Irish Times today sums up most of the relevant reasons why this is a disgrace (you could easily tick them off them yourself I'm sure), and adds this curious and disgusting point of trivia:
Up to a quarter of a million Irish atheists cannot become President or a judge unless they take a religious oath.
It is certainly reassuring to know that those people who take an office which requires sound judgement with responsibility over the lives of others are required by law to state their fervent belief in a benevolent zombie (simultaneously an all-powerful sky-god) who spends every Sunday turning himself into biscuits for his followers.
That's Ireland, folks, don't try to deny it. We're not Sweden yet.
But this new law is an offensive embarrassment to this country. It is unworkable and divisive and mediaeval and pandering and anti-intellectual and reactionary and we could go on and on.
The advocacy group Atheist Ireland have founded the Church of Dermotology (which worships the Minister for Divine Justice) in order to expose the weasel words and illogical nature of the law. Another blogger and I are also intending to test the limits of the legislation as soon as it goes into effect. You'll find out the details soon enough.
However, it may not be necessary for us to bother, as I've just twigged another potential minefield for the Keystone God Cops.
The single most contentious issue between Christians and Jews is the belief by Jews that Jesus was not the moshiach (Messiah)….In terms of the divinity of Jesus as the Son of God, it is true that Jews fundamentally consider such ideas both blasphemous and wrong.
There you have it(†) . The Jews should be first in line to bring down the Catholic Church with the full support of the Department of Divine Justice.
[UPDATE: I just wish to add the classic internet definition of Catholicism that I couldn't find earlier.
'The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically accept him as your Master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree…']
[UPDATE #2: Further research into the history/legality of this legislation turned up this information:
In its Report on The Crime of Libel in 1991 the Law Reform Commission concluded
“that there was no place for an offence of blasphemous libel in a society which respects freedom of speech. The argument in its favour that the publication of blasphemy causes injury to feelings appeared to [the Commission] to be a tenuous basis on which to restrict freedom of speech. The argument that freedom to insult religion would threaten the stability of society by impairing the harmony between groups seemed highly questionable in the absence of any prosecutions."
The Crime of Libel, Law Reform Commission (1991) at paragraph 17.
The Commission recommended that in any revision which might be undertaken by referendum of the Constitution so much of Article 40.6.1 which renders the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter an offence should be deleted. The Law Reform Commission recommended that, in the event of that recommendation not being accepted, a new offence entitled “publication of blasphemous matter” should be created governing both Christian and non-Christian religions. Blasphemous matter, they recommended, should be defined “as matter the sole effect of which is likely to cause outrage to a substantial number of the adherents of any religion by virtue of its insulting content concerning matters held sacred by that religion.”
An all-party Committee of the Oireachtas was established in 1994 to review the Constitution in its entirety. This Review Group also recommended that “the retention of the present constitutional offence of blasphemy is not appropriate”. They noted particularly that there had been no prosecution for blasphemy in the history of the State. They commented that “insofar as the protection of religious beliefs and sensibilities is necessary, this could best be achieved by carefully defined legislation along the lines of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 which applies equally to all religious groups, but which at the same time took care to respect fundamental values of free speech and freedom on conscience.”
- † The article confirming this adds yet another revolting point of trivia, mentioning a time at 'the beginning of the twelfth century when the Vatican sold all of Ireland and all the Irish as slaves to the English.' [back ↩]