We tend to think of blasphemy laws and punishments for violations as currently existing only in backward religion-dominated societies, usually in the Islamic world. But it was not that long ago that such laws were almost universal and many of them are still on the books in modern societies though not enforced. So it is always a surprise when some people now try and invoke these relics of medieval times.
Once recent example comes from Greece where the people involved in putting on a play titled Corpus Christi by American playwright Terrence McNally that portrays Jesus and his disciples as gay were charged with blasphemy and the production had to shut down last November after daily protests and threats to the cast, crew, and attendees.
That is not all. Another man was arrested and charged with blasphemy in September for a Facebook post mocking a famous dead Greek Orthodox monk and linking his name to a pasta dish.
These charges were filed under laws that date back to the 1850s. NPR had a report this morning updating the situation. The Greek authorities have dropped the charge of blasphemy against the man who mocked the dead monk but he still faces up to two years on charges of ‘insulting religion’, which is as absurd a law as blasphemy to have on the books of any nation. The blasphemy case against the play’s director and cast is ongoing.