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Bishop calls for blasphemy laws

The Local · 2 Aug 2012, 14:50

Published: 02 Aug 2012 14:50 GMT+02:00

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“Those who injure the souls of believers with scorn and derision must be put in their place and in some cases also punished,” said Bamberg Archbishop Ludwig Schick on Wednesday.

He said there should be a “Law against the derision of religious values and feelings,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

The paper said that German law only criminalises attacks on faith if it threatens to create a breach of the peace.

Satire magazine Titanic raised the topic of blasphemy and respect for religion last month after publishing an image of Pope Benedict with a yellow stain on his cassock in reference to the Vatican leaks scandal.

The Pope took legal action which succeeded in banning further printing of the image, although copies of the magazine already published were not removed from sale. Yet his legal argument was based on his personal rights rather than any protection of religion.

A spokesman for the bishop told the paper his comments were not linked to the Titanic incident specifically, but were part of a discussion that had been going on for some time.

But the idea of a blasphemy law was slammed by the Green Party, whose parliamentary leader Volker Beck said satire and irony could not be banned.

“Bishop Schick obviously feels motivated to move against democratic rights to freedom,” he said.

He said that ironic or satirical statements might not be popular among those targeted, but they could not be forbidden.

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“Believers do not need any greater criminal legal protection against defamation, slander and attack than other social groups,” he said.

Respect for other religions and views should be encouraged socially, not ordered legally he said.

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Your comments about this article

15:12 August 2, 2012 by lucksi
Telling people they will go to hell because they believe in another god or no god is still a-ok in their book, right?
15:24 August 2, 2012 by Kim Berlin
Perhaps at the same time, all Religions should have the Tax Free Status removed and be subjected to the same laws as the rest of the country
16:04 August 2, 2012 by whiteriver
Religion should become obsolete. People would live better then.
16:04 August 2, 2012 by twisted
What about the idea of freedom of speech? What the bishop proposes is a limit on freedom of speech. As the saying goes, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Besides, religion is nothing more than one's faith...to the best of my knowledge, nothing that religion preaches (the existence of a god, heaven, hell, etc. has ever been proven. So how can one blaspheme something that has no proven basis?
16:09 August 2, 2012 by wenddiver
"Injur a soul" how would you prove that in court??? Any reading of German history tells us we would just be re-instituting a blasphemy law, since men like Martin Luther lived in fear of such laws in our dark past. We have no new need for an inquisition. How about the Catholic Church re-mburse the Sorbs (Wends) for the injury of their crusade against them, including deaths, enslavement, loss of property, violation of religous rights and theft of land/property? That's assumming they have any money left after all the paedaphile law suites.

I doubt if the Roman Catholic Church would be very happy if the German Courts started correcting religous injurries.
16:40 August 2, 2012 by DOZ
Sounds like "Don't say as we do".
17:01 August 2, 2012 by Floriansamsel
Yes, bishop, and those who are found guilty of blasphemy will be burnt at the stake, right?
18:07 August 2, 2012 by zeddriver
I'm a christian. And I certainly don't think there should be any blasphemy laws. The very book that they teach from (the Bible) tells us that since we all have sin we as mortals are not allowed by God to cast religious judgements upon others. I also believe that foisting ones religion by force upon others is not right. I may tell you why I believe. I may ask you to give it a try. But. If you say no. I will still be a good neighbor. I will still come to help you. Your religion is your choice to make. Not mine.

It's funny though. That the non religious display the same stubborn holier than thou attitude as the religious leaders. They say I don't believe so therefore churches should go away.

For those that want to do away with religion. What's it to you. If I die having believed and it turns out to not be true. Then so what. I will still be dead and none the wiser. If it is true. Then things will not be so good for non believers.
18:30 August 2, 2012 by nemo999
The required punishment as set forth in the Bishops instruction manual (Old Testament)

Leviticus 24:14, and Leviticus 24:16, is for all of the member of the community to stone the individual if they have been found guilty.

On the other hand the Nazarene stated in John 8:7 that "He who is without sin may cast the first stone", but the topic of the moment was adultery.

There already is an attendance issue with churches in Germany, why not add more fuel to fire. Fire, that was one of the methods for dealing with witches, along with pressing, and drowning. If I remember my medieval Germany history, there were a great many witches drown in Germany.

Let us bring back the old days.
19:32 August 2, 2012 by Gretl
¦quot;Those who injure the souls of believers with scorn and derision must be put in their place and in some cases also punished." Why? Society is reinforcing itself through scorn and derision. Belief in lies and fables is no longer the societal norm, it is viewed as simple-mindedness.
19:40 August 2, 2012 by Repatriated
Maybe Bishop Schick has been spending too much time reading the Koran and picked up some of its primitive reasons for punishment such as death by stoning for apostacy, or death for blashphemy, or some self-righteous imam usurping judicial authority by unilaterally issuing a fatwa against someone who he thinks said something unkind about Mohammed. Islam will come to Germany sooner than we think, let's not hasten that process and keep freedom of speech as long as we can.
20:01 August 2, 2012 by wood artist

I'm going to disagree with you on one statement.

"...nothing that religion preaches (the existence of a god, heaven, hell, etc. has ever been proven."

I think a bunch of kids, throughout the world, including Germany, would gladly testify that the Catholic Church has proved the existence of hell. In fact, the Church itself put them there and showed it to them. Repeatedly.

Sorry, it's not funny, but that doesn't make it untrue.

Otherwise, yeah. Freedom of Speech pretty much means the freedom to disagree, and if you tell me that your imaginary friend can beat up my imaginary friend...well, my imaginary friend will likely be upset.

22:25 August 2, 2012 by puisoh
This Bishhop is quite intolerant and dogmatic. Don't they have things like 'live and let live' like in Buddhism in all these christian-catrhloic-churchie-mumbo-jumbo ... oopps, I might be prosecuted.
23:56 August 2, 2012 by Dantelevel09
The issue of free speech aside, I find it ironic that now that the Church is on the receiving of criticism and even outright derision it appeals to the secular authorities for relief. Basically they want the law to prevent people from making fun of them and their beliefs. How things have changed. Where was the Church's respect for other points of view during the last thousand years? Where was their respect for Giordano Bruno when they burned him at the stake for theorizing that there were many worlds, some of the likely inhabited? Where was their respect for the beliefs of the New World peoples when they did their utmost to stamp them out? The list of the Church's vicious suppression of dissent is long and troubling. Now the wheel has turned against them and the Church is powerless to stop it. I have to laugh at their pitiable pleas for legal protection. They do not deserve it. Nor should they get it.
00:09 August 3, 2012 by lordkorner
Twisted Fuc*
01:16 August 3, 2012 by scottfree
God its refreshing to read the comments here! God bless the atheists!
01:18 August 3, 2012 by German-American
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
01:21 August 3, 2012 by bobmarchiano
Being a atheist I think stores should be able to open on Sundays and the church should

back off
09:06 August 3, 2012 by HansT
Actually, it's not the churches that keep stores closed on Sunday... rather, the unions.

I find it interesting, though, that no one has mentioned the U.N. anti-blasphemy resolution that was promoted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (since renamed ¦quot;Organization of Islamic Cooperation") but voted down last year. Of course, their proposal would have only applied to insults against Islam, whereas the bishop was an equal-opportunity oppressor of free speech regarding all religions. I suppose I'll have to wait before charging my neighbors for insulting my Rastifa-nutsian-ism personal religion. (not!)

In truth, I am a christian who believes Jesus can sort this kind of thing out himself... he doesn't need legal help.
09:44 August 3, 2012 by parbold

In my experience, Atheists don't give a flying fig about what people believe in private.

I'm an Atheist and I love churches - they are a fascinating record of our history and culture, and I wholeheartedly support their upkeep and preservation.

What really riles me and other non-theists is when religion and religious people force their way into my life - often with the power of law behind them (e.g. religious indoctrination of children in the UK).

So please stop making untrue assertions.

As for Pascal's Wager - if you're relying on that for a "get out of jail free" card, then I wouldn't fancy being in your shoes in the highly unlikely event that one day you'll be face to face with a vengeful and wrathful sky daddy.
09:55 August 3, 2012 by bhess
I am christian and oppose an anti-blasphemy law. I think you would open up more problems than it would solve. People talk badly about christians often but I am secure enough in my faith to take it.
11:27 August 3, 2012 by michael4096
"In my experience, Atheists don't give a flying fig about what people believe in private."

Wouldn't that be nice. I used to think the same. However, the comments on this forum have over time changed my mind. Look back at the comments on this post where atheists are quoting the bible and happily claiming that this represents the thoughts of all christians - as though Richard Dawkins speaks for all atheists. Many of the christians are happy to allow for other ideas to coexist.

On the one hand, trying to define what should or shouldn't upset people - which is what blasphemy laws would have to do - is pretty obviously silly - even without the examples of Titanic, cartoons, circumcision and nasty messages paraded outside mosques. On the other hand, democratic governments spend much of their law making efforts on attempts to stop one lot upsetting another lot too much. Perhaps that is what democracy is.

Playing nice together should be obvious but as the comments here show, religious fervour is not restricted to the religious.
11:38 August 3, 2012 by The-ex-pat
@ 16:04 August 2, 2012 by twisted

What about the idea of freedom of speech?

The problem with freedom of speech and I do believe in it is that it is used as justification to insult, be rude, blaspheme, shout down and libel for the sake of it. There is also a problem with what blasphemy really is. For example, saying something simple as God does not exist is blasphemy for a believer, were as for a non believer it is a normal statement and stating that Jesus had an affair with a prostitute called Mary Magdalene for some may be a historical fact, but for the church regardless of history or fact it is blasphemy.

Freedom of speech is a can of worms that will never have clear definition. Yes we should have it, but there has to be limits. With freedom of speech comes responsibilities and they are no different from having a licence to drive a two ton piece of metal down a city street. Both can hurt and have dire consequences.
13:37 August 3, 2012 by parbold

Surely you mean "anti-religious fervour", no?

Also - inviting comments on the blatherings of a silly bishop is bound to bring out the quoting of equally silly bits from the bible? But only once as far as I can tell.

As I said, I only get riled when religiousity tries to introduce grit into my life's vaseline - in this case, suggesting a law to punish me for saying rude things about Jesus in the hearing of a religious person of the Christian persuasion.
14:17 August 3, 2012 by michael4096
@parbold - No! I find many on The Local to be very 'religious' about their atheist and anti-religious beliefs.

Surely, the freedom to say "rude things about jesus" brings with it the responsibility to consider others. I would find saying rude things inappropriate if it was done solely with the deliberate intention of upsetting or humiliating someone. However, passing comment on some portrayal of historical figure as part of a discussion sounds ok to me even if some were to think it rude. The line is fine which is why I find trying to define blasphemy silly whilst still rejecting the 'anything goes' counter offer.
14:20 August 3, 2012 by MiriamSPia
What shocks me, is that I felt it made some sense. I had assumed I would despise such a thing and think the Catholics were in the wrong. While I believe that people - even Catholics, should be able to defend themselves against blatant religious persecution, I'm not sure 'blasphemy' would be the word I would choose.
14:23 August 3, 2012 by scottfree
About religion or the religious: That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. - Christopher Hitchens.

I humbly suggest that if you don't like me to call your superstition a farce and a practice in manipulation, than I suggest you keep it to yourself. If you build a big building in the middle of town and ring bells to let me know you're practicing lunacy don't expect me not to laugh at you.

And in the end you want to make a secular law that I can't poke fun at you? There is already laws against hate crime, so relax: my right to swing my arm stops at the tip of your nose. But my mouth will stay a long way away from your nose and still enjoy poking at you.
14:31 August 3, 2012 by MarkNS
"Surely, the freedom to say "rude things about jesus" brings with it the responsibility to consider others." No, it doesn't. Freedom of speech, in free societies, should be limited only to libel/slander, counseling to commit a crime and those times when an overwhelming argument in favour of public safety can be made (eg. yelling "fire" in a theatre.) Forcing people to be polite is not the job of the government. And your definition of polite is likely very different than my own.

If someone believes ridiculous nonsense, I, as a free adult, am perfectly justified in calling it ridiculous nonsense. And, it's important that I do so because ridiculous religious beliefs lead to ridiculous moral decisions that do real harm. Social progress has never been made by the polite. Read about the British suffragette or American civil rights movement.
14:47 August 3, 2012 by Eastard
What is really being said is that the church is tired of being abused and would like a way to stop it... I can understand that even God fearing believers get tired of the lack of respect liberal believe-in-nothing folks have and the influence they have on others... As a species we clearly have both evolution and reverse evolution going on at the same time... The church no longer demands believers to repent and be better citizens... it persuades them... The believe-in-nothingers take full advantage of the moral laws that protect them and stomp all over others with the freedom of speech protection... I do not agree with the proposed law... but understand the desire for a more moral respectful people... It is a shame that those that make their living at the expense of others cannot get a dose of their own medicine.... The church should simply publish disappointment at the lack of respect some have for the beliefs of others... Another thing... the church does not have any corner on homosexual behavior... It is very unfortunate that they have historically applied forgiveness (another Christian skill) where they should have applied separation. Keep in mind that all religions are made up of people.. and people are fundamentally flawed... I find it disappointing to learn that this was swept under the run... kind of like credit-default-swaps, Swiss bank accounts, I did not have sex with that woman, read my lips no new taxes, weapons of mass destruction, etc... Let's let this and other churches go on their way and focus on being better people ourselves...
15:17 August 3, 2012 by MarkNS
Does any else else think the Bishop looks like an older, sadder Rowan Atkinson? He looks like I'd imagine Mr. Bean would look if he never got laid.
15:19 August 3, 2012 by parbold
@michael4096 - I'm not sure "religious" is the right word, unless you mean "forceful" maybe? I'm also a bit uncomfortable with using "belief" when it comes to Atheism, because it usually goes hand in hand with "faith".

However, I can be as sloppy and colloquial as the best of them, so I'll accept that I "believe" in Atheism in the same sense that I "believe" in gravity.


It's not true that Atheists are "believe-in-nothing folks". We consider the existence of the supernatural as highly unlikely and accept the non-existence of God as getting as close as you can to a fact - that's not a belief, that's looking at the evidence and coming to a conclusion. However, as far as other "beliefs" are concerned (belief in justice, morality, fairness and so on), as a group of people we're just as varied as any other.
15:54 August 3, 2012 by catjones
And yet the church continues to call non-believers 'sinners'.
16:21 August 3, 2012 by michael4096
@MarkNS - "Freedom of speech, in free societies, should be..."

It's rather unfortunate that free societies disagree with you. I cannot think of any countries that don't outlaw speech in addition to the things you mention. You should be careful if you are in Germany, even insult can be illegal here and there is an entire law book called AGG that insists that you are nice to others. However, I assume that by 'free society' you are talking about some USA that doesn't actually exist - try the California Supreme Court rulling in Aguilar v. Avis (1999) and aggressive 'fighting comments' as just one example of anything doesn't go.


Like you, I firmly believe there is no god. However, I don't consider my belief any more superior than he who firmly believes there is a god. We both 'know' the other to be wrong.


Sin is the breaking of religious law which means that the church is also the only one that finds it a negative comment :)
16:26 August 3, 2012 by zeddriver
@parbold I do respect your attitude about the churches.

It's not a Pascal's wager get out of jail free card in the way you are looking at it. I mentioned it because I have had non believing friends that have made that point to me. "Dude" What if this God thing isn't true. It was an answer to their questions.

Like you I do not respect any person within a church that forces their believe on anyone. But there are examples of the non religious doing the same.

A poster mentioned Dawkins. He has tried and has had some success in having the American pledge of allegiance removed from schools as it has the word god in it. It's not good enough for him and his ilk to just not repeat it in class. He and those that support him are on a crusade to have any public mention of any god REMOVED. Of course as you point out and I freely admit. Not all non-theist's are of the militant type like Dawkins is.

Per the official indoctrination of kids in the UK. The church of England was one of the issues that drove a wedge between the American colonies and the king. If one was not a member of the kings church of England. One had no rights at all. It's why the Quakers fled England for America. That is the reason behind the wording in the American constitution. Congress shall pass no law establishing a religion nor the free practice thereof. And of course a lot of folk forget to mention those last five words. Everybody mistakenly believes that the mere mention of a religion is the same as establishing a government run church. I.E. the church of England.

Again. No blasphemy laws should be considered. I cannot as a Christian support such a thing.
16:58 August 3, 2012 by MarkNS

"I cannot think of any countries that don't outlaw speech in addition to the things you mention. " I realize that...that's why I said "should". I'm Canadian and we have draconian hate speech laws along with quasi-judicial human rights commissions that have historically trampled free speech rights. Hurt feelings should never allow one to censor another. The answer to disgusting, bigoted or anti-freedom speech (like the fascist dreck spewed by this bishop) is more speech, not censorship at the whim of the government.
17:45 August 3, 2012 by parbold

I know there have been a number of (unsuccessful) legal challenges to the "under God" part in the US pledge/oath, but by Dawkins?

How does that work? I mean he's not a US citizen - but I'd be interested in your quoting chapter and verse :)

I once went to a talk by Dawkins and had a brief chat with him afterwards - he came across as a thoroughly pleasant fellow - not at all strident or militant.

I actually support one of his main lines of "militancy" - namely fighting the indoctrination by the church of young children, particularly in the UK.
20:02 August 3, 2012 by gtaglia
In a free society, everyone has the right to speak, or publish their opinions on religion, politics, or anything else. This right also includes the right of those who disagree to dispute, denigrate, or ridicule these opinions. Any ideology that can't deal with criticism, probably doesn't have much value (or much basis for their theories).
22:23 August 3, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Blasphemy laws might be considered if they obey the child molesting laws first by keeping their dirty hands of kids.
00:34 August 4, 2012 by zeddriver

I stand corrected on the name. The incident was real. Mr Newdow is the guy. He went on a seven year crusade to remove the pledge from school. He did not win the case. But I guess if you want to try and invalidate the point I was making because I got the name wrong. Far be it for me to deny you that right.

The point is! Intolerance on either side to the point of trying to pass laws to stifle the rights of someone you disagree with are never a good thing.

This is part of the transcript from an appeal to the 9th circuit court of appeals. Newdow does not allege that his daughter's teacher or school district requires his, daughter to. participate in reciting the Pledge. Rather, he claims that his daughter is injured when she is compelled to "watch and listen as her state-employed teacher in her state-run school leads her classmates in a ritual proclaiming that there is a God, and that our's [sic] is 'one nation under God.' "

That's what I object to. I think that his attitude is no different than the Bishops. They are both wrong to use the law to try and limit speech. He "Newdow" does not believe in God. As is his right. Therefore Newdow thinks he and his child should be protected by law from even hearing the word. Think about that. Seven years of legal battles, Legal fees. Because HE didn't want his daughter to HEAR the word God in a pledge she wasn't even required to take part in.

On indoctrination. If you mean a parent taking a child to church is indoctrination. Weak case there. Because when they are adults they are free to separate themselves from those teachings without fear of punishment by the church or the government. At least in the west.

On the other hand. If a government says to it's citizens (to include children) you WILL be members of OUR church. And If you do not become members you will not have representation, Or are denied benefits. Or if the church teaches children without the knowledge of the parent. The above examples go into the realm of coercion. And should not be tolerated.
01:49 August 4, 2012 by yuri_nahl
I firmly feel that anyone felt to be blaspheming should be circumcised. Oh wait, they already do that.But the priest can do the feeling to see who is blaspheming. Oh wait , they already do that.
05:36 August 4, 2012 by wood artist
Obviously there are opinions all over the map here, and some are clearly fueled by the actions of some elements of "the church." Admittedly it's hard to look past the child abuse when discussing whether or not the church is being unfairly abused in speech.

However, some other assumptions are more difficult to judge. I was raised a "Christian", specifically a Methodist. I long ago left "organized religion" for many reasons, but that doesn't mean I don't respect those who believe and, in the case of Christians, their book...i.e. the Bible. If I have a problem with all of that, it is simply that I have a lot of respect for Jesus and the picture the Bible paints of him. I struggle, however, to see much linkage between his teachings and the modern church, especially here in the US. "Love one another unconditionally" doesn't seem to mesh with "preach hatred for the LGBTQ community." Universal respect doesn't seem to mesh with "deny women the rights to health care choices and control of their own bodies."

In short, as others have observed: I like their God, I just can't stand his fan club!

Believe as you wish. Don't attempt to force me to believe likewise. Do that, and I shall do that same.

05:42 August 4, 2012 by talismancer
No matter what the bishop wants or gets, stupid ideas will still be treated as stupid.
10:53 August 4, 2012 by parbold
@zeddriver #39

Sorry, my mistake - by "Dawkins" I presumed you meant Richard Dawkins, but you obviously didn't.

The US pledge is quite an interesting situation. The "one nation under God" part was brought in quite recently and appears to directly contravene the Establishment Clause of the Constitution - hence the numerous (so far unsuccessful) court cases.

I would certainly have problems in swearing it - as, I suppose, would Muslims, Hindus, Shintoists and so on.

A number of cases have been brought about based on the Establishment Clause - the most recent of these being the one presented by Jessica Alqhuist. She successfully forced the removel of a banner bearing a prayer from her school. She was subsequently threatened with violence - murder and rape - by Christians in her school and local community. The situation got so bad the the police were brought in to calm these people down. She even had to have police escorts to guarantee her safety.

In Wales, Rhys Morgan posted a cartoon of Jesus and Mohammed on his blog. He was subsequently threatened with expulsion from his school and received threats of violence - murder and bombings - this time from Muslims.

In India, Senal Edamaruku exposed a fraud by the RC church and was ... well you get the general picture. And the list goes on and on and on.

Now you may make the "no true Christian" argument, but the point is, you'd be hard pressed to find a documented case of a group of Atheist threatening a Christian with violence for having the temerity to express a pious opinion.

We may argue a lot on forums and even swear a bit, but we leave the promises of rape, murder, bombings and stonings to the religious.
11:45 August 4, 2012 by michael4096
Probably a silly question but what does LGBTQ stand for? LG, ok; T, maybe; but B&Q I have no idea.
13:08 August 4, 2012 by parbold
@zeddriver #39

"On indoctrination. If you mean a parent taking a child to church is indoctrination ..."

No, I wasn't referring to that (although I do have opinions on the topic!)

I refer to the indoctrination in schools in the UK (my grandchildren live there, hence the interest).

My problem is twofold.

Firstly, UK law requires each child in state funded schools to undertake a "daily act of Christian worship". Now I admit that in many non-denominational schools this has been watered down to a "let's be nice to one another" session (because of the varied ethnic mix of pupils), however it still feels uncomfortable to me and violates the notion of school=education and church=religion.

A more serious concern is state school funding. Around 50% of state funded schools are permitted to have Christianity "at the heart" of their ethos. Of these, around 40% are permitted to select pupils on the basis of their parent's religious commitment.

Bearing in mind that my taxes are paying for all these, I find it objectionable that my grandchildren's school choices are dictated/restricted by the "rights" of the religious.

But I'm going OT, so perhaps I should shut up.
14:28 August 4, 2012 by Nordaky
'Blasphemy' is a silly word, it should be replaced with 'criticism'. No one and nothing deserves legal protection from criticism, on the contrary, it should be encouraged.
15:09 August 4, 2012 by celticbrooder
...and who, pray tell, shall annoint the Grand Inquisitor to render judgment over these wretched souls?
20:17 August 4, 2012 by Drewsky
Since these churches choose to involve themselves in politics, they have to accept the political consequences of their decisions. That includes the same level of criticism and exposure anyone else gets. They should also be paying the same taxes; something that they have been avoiding for many years under the guise of 'religion'.
23:31 August 4, 2012 by zeddriver
@parbold Thanks for the civil back and forth.

No. your not going OT. Well maybe the last paragraph in post #43. I think that evil (not in the religious sense) but in the context of being a nasty, Rapist, Bomber type. Is most certainly not the exclusive domain of "the Religious". In fact I would say that doing such an act goes in direct conflict with religion. Or at least most religions. If a religious person says they did it (insert crime of your choice here) in the name of God. They are not truly religious.

Look at the Muslims. Their religion is taking a beating in the court of public opinion due to the acts of a very small minority within that religion.

I do have to agree with you about the school req. of a daily act of christian worship. Not cool at all.

But I will very much disagree with you about the establishment clause. The one and only thing that drove the US founding fathers when they wrote the first amendment. Was their experience with the king of England's legal requirement to be a member of the church of England. And if you weren't a member you were punished by not having any rights afforded to you. or persecuted in one form or another. That is a far cry from the Newdows of modern times that will cry establishment if he hears a teacher or city councilman say bless you after a someone sneezes. It's very clear in the words of the amendment. Congress shall MAKE NO LAW ESTABLISHING a religion. I challenge you to quote a US federal or even a state LAW that requires anyone in America to be christian. Having a pledge that is not mandatory establishes nothing as there are no laws mandating that you must repeat it or go to jail or pay a fine. Just hearing the word God does not establish any thing. Other than you can hear and understand the spoken language.
10:14 August 5, 2012 by parbold

likewise (civility)

Obviously I'm no expert in US jurisprudence, but the very fact that legal challenges (both successful and unsuccessful) have been made concerning prayers/God/religiousity in public places and the Establishment clause, demonstrates that various interpretations can be made. I suspect the issue will run and run and it's probably better to agree to disagree on this one.

I don't agree about no-one being "forced" to repeat (effectively) a prayer. When I was at school, we said the Lord's prayer in assembly. At 17, I considered myself Atheist (well agnostic actually, I don't think atheists had been invented back in 1962) and didn't want to partake in what I considered to be a ritual of mumbo-jumbo. We had the "option" of opting out of the religious service - but since this entailed sitting in a classroom, unsupervised, with wackos like Jehovah's Witnesses, it wasn't really an option (also you were singled out as a "weirdo"). So I ended up just not saying it. Chanting an oath in class with your classmates in the presence of the teacher doesn't give you the same kind of option.

Anyway, we can probably go back and forth like this 'till the cows come home, so I'll leave you with a little cartoon that pretty well sums up my view on religion (especially the final footnote). Beware, there's a bit of swearing.

12:57 August 5, 2012 by zeddriver

Part of the problem we have in the US within the courts. Is called Precedence case law. It involves the court making a decision on a case not by applying the laws that exists for such cases. It will look at what other judges decisions have been on other similar cases. Which what leads to the mentioning of the word God by a government official being rendered as an establishment of religion.

A fictional example would be say J-walking. I.E. walking across the street out side of a crosswalk. Lets say that Mr. Parbold made a sudden move to walk just to the curb outside a crosswalk with out actually going into the street and caused a car wreck. the driver then takes you to court but you loose. Judges could from then on use your case to arrest anyone making a sudden move to the curb. Even though the J-walking law states that stepping from the curb and going into the street is what J-walking is by definition of the law on the books. And that's just how MAKE NO LAW ESTABLISHING A RELIGION. Was redefined to mean "mentioning God in a publicly funded forum establishes a religion.

Good debate though. We will just have to agree to disagree on a few points.
16:31 August 6, 2012 by Alan3354
Tell the bishop we're more concerned about child rape, and that the "blasphemy" is well deserved.

Religion = Superstition + $$$$$
12:01 August 31, 2012 by LIMA
Religion is the root of all evil....there are more wars fought and more people killed because of differing beliefs than any other cause.

Just how are the Churches going to justify and explain it all when the Aliens land and tell us the there is no God???

and the Catholic Church are the worst of all...Sin as much as you want from Monday and the six Hail marys on a Sunday and the Slate is wiped clean and we can start over again!!

Today's headlines
Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Supermarket Edeka warns of exploding apple juice bottles
Photo: DPA

"Risk of injury" from "Gut und Günstig" sparkling apple juice bottles has forced Germany's largest supermarket to recall the product.

By wheelchair from Syria to Germany: teen's story of hope
Nujeen Mustafa. Photo: HarperCollins-William Collins Publicity/Private

She tackled the gruelling 2,000-kilometre migrant trail in a wheelchair, translating along the way for other refugees using English she learned from a US soap opera. Now this teen is living in Germany and hoping to inspire others with a newly published memoir.

Berlin Zoo to have a pair of pandas by next summer
A recently born panda pair at Vienna Zoo. Photo: DPA

The giant bamboo-eating bears will move into a brand new 5,000 square-metre enclosure in the capital's Zoologischer Garten.

Two new spider species discovered in Munich
Zoropsis spinimana. Photo: rankingranqueen / Wikimedia Commons

It's news every arachnophobe in Munich is no doubt thrilled to hear: two types of spider new to the region have been discovered in the Bavarian capital - and one of them bites!

After woman's body found in barrel, husband may walk free
Franziska S., who went missing 24 years ago. Photo: Hanover police.

A woman disappeared in Hanover 24 years ago, but no one reported her missing. Although her husband has now confessed to her murder, he still may not step foot in jail.

Two injured after army tank falls 50 metres in Alps
A Bundeswehr Puma tank. File photo: DPA

A Bundeswehr (German army) soldier has been severely injured after the tank he was riding in crashed 50 metres down an embankment after going off course in bad weather.

Teen girl stands trial for 'Isis' police stabbing in Hanover
Police guard the courthouse in Celle. Photo: DPA

A teenage girl stands trial from Thursday in Germany for stabbing a police officer, an assault allegedly "ordered" by Isis but which was not claimed by the jihadist group.

Merkel threatens Putin with more sanctions on Berlin visit
Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel created a united front with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin on Thursday to denounce Russia’s “war crimes” in Syria.

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