I thought this was a good article from Christianity Today called “The Curse of Blasphemy Laws”–both Pakistani and from Christian history. The author makes a comparison between western Christianity’s disbelief in how such blasphemy laws can exist in the Muslim world and incidents from Christianity’s past. What really seems to be happening is that Islam is finding a need to catch up to secularization, something western Christianity takes for granted. Oh, those damned secularists.
On this issue, we should give the pope some credit as he has stepped in on the behalf of Aasia Bibi, sentenced to die in Pakistan for what else–blasphemy! Blasphemy laws “served primarily as a pretext for violence against religious minorities” summarizes the pope’s position in the article. Now Aasia Bibi (first name also spelled Asia) is Christian, surprise, surprise, so would the pope step in for other religious minorities and be as vocal? Maybe.
In Christendom, the article covers the story of James Nayler, who “led a splinter group within George Fox’s rapidly growing Quaker movement.” There was a relatively close vote in the then Puritan Parliament to execute Nayler, but thankfully his sentence was reduced to being whipped through the streets of London. That’s 310 lashes–oh, and to have his forehead branded with the letter “B” for Blasphemer, have his tongue pierced with a hot iron, more whipping, and imprisonment for life with hard labor. I think I would have rather been hanged.
The Christianity Today post gives credit not to “enlightened deists” (referring to many of our founding fathers) for eradicating blasphemy laws, but to Quakers and Baptists. But then it is quick to throw in government secularization. …Okay.
I believe I could research the effect our enlightened deist founding fathers had on America, including the constitution, but I really have no problem with giving credit to Quakers and Baptists. It is the personalizing of religion that has led to religious freedom–Americans don’t want to be told what to believe, even by the heads of their own churches. After watching PBS’ God in America you find out about how many internal struggles were required before individual Christian denominations woke up to the fact their efforts to control everyone wasn’t working. After all, freedom of religion, which is part of secularization, is beneficial to us all. Now if we can just dispense with the nonsense of putting the Ten Commandments on our courthouse steps, I think we might have something.