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Contentious, civil ‘Blasphemy Day’

Center for Free Inquiry Blasphemy Contest logo

Center for Free Inquiry Blasphemy Contest logo

Center for Inquiry founder Paul Kurtz’s dissent from the excesses of Blasphemy Day was unexpected and welcome. He wrote:

When we defended the right of a Danish newspaper to publish cartoons deploring the violence of Muslim suicide bombers, we were supporting freedom of the press. The right to publish dissenting critiques of religion should be accepted as basic to freedom of expression. But for CFI itself to sponsor the lampooning of Christianity by encouraging anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, or any other anti-religious cartoons goes beyond the bounds of civilized discourse in pluralistic society. It is not dissimilar to the anti-semitic cartoons of the Nazi era. Yet there are some fundamentalist atheists who have resorted to such vulgar antics to gain press attention. In doing so they have dishonored the basic ethical principles of what the Center for Inquiry has resolutely stood for until now: the toleration of opposing viewpoints.

Catholic journalist Dave Gibson, from whom we learned of Kurtz’s dissent, writes that there is in it a resonance with Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Gibson observes that of “Blasphemy Day,” Mohler wrote:

The sheer foolishness of a blasphemy contest with t-shirts and mugs betrays the lunacy of it all. They can do no better than this? One testimony to the power of God is the fact that his self-declared enemies come off as so childish and manic.

Apparently lost amid the offensive silliness to which Kurtz and Mohler object is the animating purpose of this altogether unofficial ‘Blasphemy Day’:

Protesting U.N. Resolution 62/154 on “Combating defamation of religions,” which offends Mohler, Mainstream Baptist Bruce Prescott, atheist Peter Singer and a long list of others in otherwise unlikely, informal alliance in defense of free expression.

It is inescapable that calm, civil response to the Blasphemy Day silliness is an aspect of that free expression.

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September 30, 2009 - Posted by | Cultural, Religion, Satire |

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