July/August 2017 Church & State - July/August 2016

Around The World: Danes Vote To Scrap Blasphemy Law

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The Danish Parliament has repealed a law punishing blasphemy with a 75-27 vote, a move that was met with approval from the secular community.

“Blasphemy laws always contravene freedom of expression. Such laws don’t help people live side by side, rather they are a block on open, honest discussion between communities, they marginalize minorities,” Andrew Copson, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said in a June 2 statement. “Congratulations to Denmark! The world must follow suit.”

The law prevented people from criticizing religions or committing what some perceive as anti-religious acts. The last time a prosecutor attempted to use the law to punish someone was in 2015, when a man who burned a Quran would have spent as much as four months in prison if convicted.

“This [vote] means that we can have a freer and less prejudiced discussion about religions,” Bruno Jerup, whose Red-Green Alliance party was behind the proposal, said after the repeal was passed.

Other countries with similar laws to Denmark’s repealed blasphemy law include Ireland and New Zealand.

An American Original

Is the separation of church and state in the Constitution?

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The “wall of separation between church and state” is an American original. It’s an American invention. We should be proud of that fact. And we should fight any disinformation that threatens this ideal.

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