This is not just an idle inquiry – how do we manage to blaspheme against the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What is the correct – or incorrect – manner of taking his Noodly Name in vain? Do, we for example, just deny the obvious truth of climate change being caused by a lack of High Seas pirates?
The question becoming important because:
A northern Italian town has had enough of people taking the Lord’s name in vain and those who do will be fined up to €400 (£360) for blasphemy. The city council of Saonara, a town with 10,000 inhabitants just outside Padua, has introduced a new law making it illegal “to blaspheme against any faith or religion” and utter foul language in public. The mayor, Walter Stefan, said the move was designed to get rid of uncivilised behaviour and promote public decency. “Blasphemy is offensive, it offends me,” Mr Stefan told The Telegraph on Friday. “With this law you will not be able to cause offence to any religion, we have to respect the faithful.” The mayor, a practicing Catholic, said it was not designed to protect only Christianity, but all faiths. “It is valid for Allah, Buddha or Mohammad,” he said.
“All” is the problem word there. FSM is indeed a religious belief – bet we could find more people to sign up to the canon than there are Jehovah’s Witnesses for example. And Jedi got some ungodly percentage of the British in the Census one time.
Even if we stick with the more generally accepted as being religions stuff. To deny that JC was in fact the Son of God and therefore the Messiah is blasphemous from the Christian point of view. To insist that he is is blasphemous from the Mohammedan one – for how could Mo’ be the last and proper prophet if God has already turned up?
Which is rather the problem with such blanket laws. Unless we define, very closely, exactly which views and beliefs it is illegal to offend then given the multiple variations of views we end up banning every statement on the subject. Or even, doing the sensible thing, and banning none of them. After all, God will know his own – in the end.