ACLJ: Muslim Blasphemy Laws Bad, Christian Blasphemy Laws Good


Right Wing Watch has a follow up on its report about the Slavic Center for Law and Justice, which was created by Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, and its staunch support for harsh blasphemy laws. They catch the ACLJ in a major contradiction on the subject of blasphemy laws, strongly opposing blasphemy laws in Muslim countries while lamenting the lack of them in America.

So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?  On one hand, it is proud of its opposition in international forums like the United Nations to blasphemy laws that are used by Islamist governments to restrict religious expression.  In 2011, the ACLJ said the UN’s Human Rights Committee endorsed an ECLJ-backed position that “no right exists to protect the reputation of an ideology, rather human rights belongs to individuals.”

But Jay Sekulow, chief counsel and founder of the ACLJ, has plainly endorsed blasphemy laws in America:

Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

Jay answers: Black’s is the standard of legal definitions that law students are given around the country and Black’s is still cited in Supreme Court decisions. Not only in English common law but also in most states in the USA, blasphemy was prohibited speech. Clearly, the ACLU and those who trumpet the First Amendment as a license to really degrade people have changed that and that’s an unfortunate situation. But you’re absolutely correct, Black’s Law Dictionary is right. There are many definitions like that in Black’s, but religion lacks protection in the law. Not only is religion seen as irrelevant, but religion is trivialized and even mocked. This behavior has become an accepted part of who we are as a people and in some cases the Supreme Court hasn’t been particularly helpful in that context. The composition of the Supreme Court is obviously something we’re always watching because we know that with the more conservative court obviously some of our values will be more protected. Things have changed drastically if you look at our history, and it’s not even old history. Our country is still very young, but things are very different since our founding. We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America. This is what we’re working toward. Selection of Supreme Court Justices is critical in the interpretation of these kinds of cases.

So when Muslims want blasphemy laws, that’s outrageous because ideologies do not have rights, only individuals do. But when Christians want them, then of course that’s perfectly find because people are mocking God and that can’t be allowed. Hypocrite much, Mr. Sekulow?

Comments

  1. zippythepinhead says

    “… religion is trivialized and even mocked …”

    Lord Edmund: And I will NOT be MOCKED!!!

  2. Jeremy Shaffer says

    It seems that in their view non-Christian religion are ideologies that people adopt while Christianity is as personal as hair color. One might- might- argue that this saves them from being hypocritical since they make a distinction,even if it is equivocating, but it’s one born out of necessity to cover the switch rather than one reflective of reality so that would be a very hard argument to make.

  3. moarscienceplz says

    In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal.

    Huh. So a dictionary reports the fact that blasphemy was illegal in certain jurisdictions at some time in the past, and this “proves” that blasphemy SHOULD be illegal? I was just reading about how it was common for ladies in Victorian England to swallow a concoction containing arsenic to whiten their skin. So I guess this means that women today should be swallowing arsenic.

  4. whirligig says

    “There is only one god” is blasphemy to some and “there are many gods” is blasphemy to others, so a fair anti-blasphemy law would have to forbid any mention of gods at all. That’s what Mr. Sekulow is advocating, right?

  5. D. C. Sessions says

    We’re continuing to hope here at the American Center for Law and Justice that history will continue to change in a way that protects the rights of religious people across America.

    I do so love the way he manages to change “the rights of … people” into “the right of some people to prohibit the speech of everyone else.” It’s so totally clear that he has a deep and abiding love of the United States Constitution, isn’t it?

  6. says

    Christian blasphemy laws aren’t a problem at all. Just look at French history.*

    * While that article appears to have been edited by the Vatican or the French Right, the story shines through:

    Regarding Jean-Francois Lefebvre, chevalier de La Barre, we declare him convicted of having taught to sing and sung impious, execrable and blasphemous songs against God; of having profaned the sign of the cross in making blessings accompanied by foul words which modesty does not permit repeating; of having knowingly refused the signs of respect to the Holy Sacrament carried in procession by the priory of Saint-Pierre; of having shown these signs of adoration to foul and abominable books that he had in his room; of having profaned the mystery of the consecration of wine, having mocked it, in pronouncing the impure terms mentioned in the trial record over a glass of wine which he held in his hand and then drunken the wine; of having finally proposed to Petignat, who was serving mass with him, to bless the cruets while pronouncing the impure words mentioned in the trial record.

    In reparation of which, we condemn him to make honorable amend, in smock, head bare and a rope around his neck, holding in his hands a burning candle of two pounds before the principal door of the royal church… of Saint-Wulfram, where he will be taken in a tumbrel by the executioner who will attach before and behind him a sign on which will be written, in large letters impious one; and there, being on his knees, will confess his crimes…; this done, will have the tongue cut out and will then be taken in the said tumbrel to the public marketplace of this city to have his head cut off on a scaffold; his body and his head will then be thrown on a pyre to be destroyed, burnt, reduced to ashes and these thrown to the wind. We order that before the execution of the said Lefebvre de La Barre the ordinary and the extraordinary question [that is, torture] will be applied to have from his mouth the truth of several facts of the trial and revelation about his accomplices… We order that the Philosophical Dictionary… be thrown by the executioner on the same pyre as the body of the said Lefebvre de La Barre.

    Note:

    The statue of the Chevalier de La Barre on Montmarte was later moved in 1926 away from the approach of the basilica entrance to the nearby and lower elevation of Square Nadar. This original Chevalier de la Barre statue by Bloch was eventually toppled on October 11, 1941 and melted down with other non-religious statues by the Vichy France regime under Marshal and Chief of State of Vichy France Philippe Pétain.

  7. John Pieret says

    So, where does the ACLJ stand on blasphemy laws?

    I think it probably goes: ‘my human right to be a Christian; your tolerated Judaism; their ideology of Islam.’

  8. Nick Gotts says

    Our country is still very young

    It’s interesting how widespread this delusion is. There are currently just under 200 sovereign states in the world. This wikipedia article says 195, of which it classes just 35 or 36 as established before the USA (Thailand’s date of acquisition of sovereignty is given as 1776). Obviously there’s a good deal of slop around what counts as the same state (and some of the dates given are ridiculous, e.g. 2879 BCE for Vietnam), but there’s no real doubt that the USA is one of the oldest countries in existence.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    If you go by continuously chartered government (that is, no “throw it all out and start over” revolutions), the USA is the second oldest on Earth. The UK beats us by a good bit, going back to the Restoration.

    All of the others have had reboots.

  10. D. C. Sessions says

    It might bed argued that the Civil War was a reboot.

    An attempted reboot, yes. The fact that the government did not change as a result kind of limits that argument.

  11. cjcolucci says

    I suppose it’s possible that there could be principled pro-blasphemy advocates, who favor blasphemy laws covering all religions, or, more plausibly, blasphemy laws covering the locally-dominant religion, whatever it is. But I don’t know of any.

  12. thalwen says

    I read that quote a few days ago and it still has me puzzled. Here’s a lawyer, who’s argued in front of the Supreme Court who doesn’t understand (or at least makes the ridiculous argument) that dictionary definitions trump actual law (which often includes definitions). If there is no statute against blasphemy (and Constitutionally, I don’t see how one would hold up but for sheer bias), then it can’t be illegal.

  13. Pen says

    Joe from Rhode Island asks: In Black’s classic law dictionary, blasphemy is illegal. When did it become legal to mock a person’s faith in God?

    Since when is blasphemy the same thing as mocking a person’s faith in God anyway? Blasphemy is an offense against God, not his believers. To those who believed in the old man’s existence and took note of his expressed preferences and sensitivities, it may have seemed perfectly natural to establish hate speech laws just for him. But they were never intended to protect the followers. Only someone who’s forgotten the point would think that.

  14. vmanis1 says

    The reference to Black’s Law Dictionary is pretty conclusive. Similarly, Dr Johnson, in his Dictionary of the English Language, defined oats as `A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.’

    Dictionaries rule.

  15. samgardner says

    but religion lacks protection in the law.

    Bwahahahaa! You mean like lacking protection to kill through neglect?

  16. says

    Hmm, blasphemy laws would seem to go against their teachings anyway. Since we have free will, we can choose to blaspheme, and it would all be part of god’s plan.
     
    It would be up to god to punish us, not some pointy headed twit.

  17. dingojack says

    Nick Gotts (#12) – As usual you’re wrong as wrong can be.
    Didn’t America have a Second Revolution a couple of days ago in which a whole hundred patriots turned up (bravely shrugging off the mild damp) and the sitting President left the White House to go eat some fast food and meet and greet people, before returning home again?
    George Washington’s eyeballs (such as they are) are spinning in his grave.
    Dingo

  18. lofgren says

    There are currently just under 200 sovereign states in the world. This wikipedia article says 195, of which it classes just 35 or 36 as established before the USA (Thailand’s date of acquisition of sovereignty is given as 1776). Obviously there’s a good deal of slop around what counts as the same state (and some of the dates given are ridiculous, e.g. 2879 BCE for Vietnam), but there’s no real doubt that the USA is one of the oldest countries in existence.

    So 37/195 = “one of the oldest countries in existence?” Because if you used that phrase on me I would think you’re claiming that the US is at least in the oldest 10%. In fact I would probably think you meant it held a disputed first place.

    And that is even if I accept your narrow and legalistic definition of country, which is not what I believe is intended by most people who use this phrase. India, for example, is a country that I would point to for its ancient history. It is an older country than the US by almost every definition except the one you have chosen. I am not comfortable saying that India did not exist until 1947 just because it was a British colony for less than a hundred years. Germany did not become a whole new country in 1955 by most definitions. Same people, same culture, same place.

  19. Nick Gotts says

    lofgren@23,

    Well, perhaps “one of the oldest countries in existence” overstates the case, but the USA is certainly not “very young” as Jay Sekulow claimed; if I substitute “older” for “oldest”, would you find that acceptable? My link gives the date of 322 BCE for India – which is daft, because for most of the time between then and now India has been divided between numerous polities, but I counted it among those older than the USA because I simply followed my source, while pointing out that there was a lot of unavoidable ambiguity; and as for Germany, it would be hard to defend any date earlier than the 19th century (the medieval “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” evolved into Austria-Hungary, not Germany), which would still leave it younger than the USA.

    And that is even if I accept your narrow and legalistic definition of country, which is not what I believe is intended by most people who use this phrase.

    So what do you think they do intend by it? That their ancestors stole the land they live in relatively recently? I think they’re just mouthing an American exceptionalist slogan they have never really thought about, and which a casual glance at history shows to be a load of crap.

  20. comfychair says

    I bet these fine fellows would also support the idea of having belief in false religions classified as blasphemy as well, because one of them is obviously true and all the others obviously false, and what better use of state power than to save the people from the punishment of eternal torture in a lake of fire?

  21. colnago80 says

    Re D. C. Sessions @ #15

    I think that most historians would consider the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to be a very considerable reboot. The Civil War itself would be considered a reboot because the power of the federal government increased enormously as a result.

  22. 3kramer says

    The US Constitution was ratified 17 Sep 1787 and has been continuously in force since then. Amendments to the constitution are not “reboots”, simply a government evolving. The Constitution itself was a reboot from the Articles of Confederation, which was a completely different form of government and therefore a different county. The US has been under the same government since 1787 and that makes it one of the oldest countries in the world.

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