Blasphemy Has a Defender
September 6, 2011
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) will be celebrating free speech again this year by sponsoring International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD).
For the past few years, CFI has urged that September 30 be commemorated as IBRD. September 30 is, of course, the day of the publication of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons in 2005.
For centuries, religion has received a free pass from examination and criticism, and even today people are prosecuted-or killed-for expressing their views about religious beliefs. CFI urges everyone to reflect on the value of free speech and commit to support the right of people everywhere to express their views about any topic, whether it’s politics or poetry, the recession or religion. No topic should be off limits.
“The need to support the right to speak critically of religion has never been clearer,” observed Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “For example, in Pakistan, high government officials have been assassinated for daring to suggest changes in that country’s harsh blasphemy laws. We must work to eliminate the laws and social taboos that continue to insulate religious beliefs from criticism.”
CFI is not planning any particular series of events or actions for September 30, leaving it up to individuals and groups how best to commemorate IBRD. However, CFI‘s headquarters in Amherst, New York, will present a night of comedy on September 24. The show-“Nothing Sacred”-will feature the comedic talents of the satirical web show/podcast characters Mr. Deity and his ex-girlfriend Lucifer, with additional appearances by Joe Dixon, creator of the Atheist Bible Study, and Buffalo-area comedian Philip Machemer.
“There’s nothing wrong with celebrating early,” Lindsay said, “and laughing at jokes that poke fun at all beliefs-including atheism-is a great way to emphasize our right to speak out on any topic.”
The Center for Inquiry is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization based in Amherst, New York; CFI is home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Our web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.
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