Ireland Makes Blasphemy Illegal
July 9, 2009 by Pastor Mike
Irish atheists are horrified by new legislation making blasphemy illegal, and punishable by a 25,000-Euro fine. Christians of all stripes should be, too.

As part of a revision to defamation legislation, the Dail (Irish Parliament) passed legislation creating a new crime of blasphemy. Update: The bill went to the Seanad on Friday, July 10, passing by a single vote. This attack on free speech, debated for several months in Europe, has gone largely unnoticed in the American press.

The text of the legislation is provided at the end of this post.

How does this impact free speech? Just don’t be rude.

  • Atheists can be prosecuted for saying that God is imaginary. That causes outrage.
  • Pagans can be prosecuted for saying they left Christianity because God is violent and bloodthirsty, promotes genocide, and permits slavery.
  • Christians can be prosecuted for saying that Allah is a moon god, or for drawing a picture of Mohammed, or for saying that Islam is a violent religion which breeds terrorists.
  • Jews can be prosecuted for saying Jesus isn’t the Messiah.

Is it really THAT big a deal?

Ireland’s Blasphemy Bill not only criminalizes free speech, it also gives the police the authority to confiscate anything deemed “blasphemous”. They may enter and search any premises, with force if needed, upon “reasonable suspicion” that such materials are present.


Satirizing religion in any way, shape, or form, if it “causes outrage”, is now a prosecutable offense in Ireland. Saying anything negative about a religion, if it “causes outrage”, can now be prosecuted as a crime. Just like in Muslim countries.

Witness the return of the Dark Ages.

Update: The bill passed the Seanad on Friday, July 10, by a single vote. From the Irish Times:
Seanad deputy leader Dan Boyle (Green Party) indicated his party’s preference for a constitutional referendum in “the mid-term” on the issue of blasphemy. However, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said he would hazard a guess it was unlikely they would come back to this issue for some time. The Minister rejected Mr Regan’s contention that the matter of blasphemy could be adequately dealt with by an amendment to the Incitement to Hatred Act, saying what was blasphemous did not necessarily constitute incitement to hatred.

During exchanges with Ivana Bacik, the Minister said he had never in his political career received so many e-mails expressing outrage as he had on this issue. Ms Bacik said under the proposed legislation, Fr Willie Russell from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, a critic of those in his parish who appeared to be worshipping a tree with the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, could be open to a charge of blasphemy because he had stated that no one could “worship a tree”.

Let’s see if he gets charged.

The text of the legislation:
36. Publication or utterance of blasphemous matter. (1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000. [Amended to €25,000]

(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.

(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.

37. Seizure of copies of blasphemous statements.

(1) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 36, the court may issue a warrant (a) authorising any member of the Garda Siochana to enter (if necessary by the use of reasonable force) at all reasonable times any premises (including a dwelling) at which he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that copies of the statement to which the offence related are to be found, and to search those premises and seize and remove all copies of the statement found therein, (b) directing the seizure and removal by any member of the Garda Siochana of all copies of the statement to which the offence related that are in the possession of any person, © specifying the manner in which copies so seized and removed shall be detained and stored by the Garda Siochana.

(2) A member of the Garda Siochana may (a) enter and search any premises, (b) seize, remove and detain any copy of a statement to which an offence under section 36 relates found therein or in the possession of any person, in accordance with a warrant under subsection (1).

(3) Upon final judgment being given in proceedings for an offence under section 36, anything seized and removed under subsection (2) shall be disposed of in accordance with such directions as the court may give upon an application by a member of the Garda Siochana in that behalf.

Views: 1

Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 11, 2009 at 10:08am
"The Life of Brian" and "Father Ted" were probably two of Ireland's most hilarious contributions to television. Both would be illegal under this current legislation.
Comment by James on July 11, 2009 at 10:57am
Wow! I just lost a lot of respect for Ireland, and will sadly be removing it from my vacation destination list.
Comment by Reggie on July 11, 2009 at 11:03am
It's an untenable law that will either not be properly enforced or will be overturned.
Comment by James on July 11, 2009 at 11:24am
Very true. Just as my home state has a law requiring a belief in god to reach an elected office. It's still on the books, but not enforceable since it's unconstitutional.

This is showing one thing though. Just how silly it is for one religion to cry about people blaspheming their religion, when they are in fact guilty of doing the same with the rest.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 11, 2009 at 11:39am
Really? I was pretty sure it was an Irish show.. either filmed there, or written there or something... hmm.. anyway, even owning a copy of the DVD is now illegal!
Comment by Matthew on July 11, 2009 at 2:26pm
Well, I'm glad I'm in the USA because I treasure my complete DVD set of Father Ted. But perhaps Ireland could learn a thing or two from Father Jack who put it best when he said, "That would be an ecumenical matter!"
On another note....I LOVE MY BRICK!
Comment by Gaytor on July 12, 2009 at 3:12am
Nice job putting this together! I saw it last night and was thinking what should I do with it. I'm glad that I left it alone and you handled it. My post... Hurt Gods Ego and We'll Hurt You! You the man Johnny.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on July 12, 2009 at 4:17am
I stand corrected about "Life of Brian"

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