Religious groups and neo-nazis protested against gay-themed play Corpus Christi in Athens on 11 October, 2012. Deeming it blasphemous, they assaulted a theater critic and forced the cancellation of the performance. Police watched and refused to intervene when a Golden Dawn MP assaulted a critic. Orthdox Christian religious groups had previously attempted in vain to get the play banned in court
Blasphemy, by reason of the significance of the words with which it is expressed, may be of three kinds.
It is heretical when the insult to the Divine involves a declaration that is against Faith,
It is imprecatory when it would cry a malediction upon the Supreme Being
It is simply contumacious when it is wholly made up of contempt of, or indignation towards, the Divine.
Now lets look at what has been happening lately, as recently as a few days ago in Athens, and it becomes very clear that people everywhere make two very fundamental mistakes. First, they equate religion with faith, and secondly, based on the first fundamental mistake some people then go on and use the deliberate wrong interpretation of the very emotionally charged concept of blasphemy as a means to promote their specific worldly ideas and policies, all of which are designed to maintain and strengthen their power rather than respect the Divine.
One of the worlds greatest thinkers, Voltaire, defines Faith as follows:
“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed.”
Faith cannot be reasoned in or out of existence, it is beyond the power of reason. It is a universal phenomenon of belief, or Faith, in the Divine. Some people will call the Divine God, other will say Allah, others again will speak of Jehovah, or Shiva, or… the name given to the Divine is immaterial, what is important is the universal nature of Faith. No person or group has exclusivity on Faith.
Again, Blasphemy is “the insult to the Divine involving a declaration that is against Faith”. This is where the first fundamental mistake happens. Faith gets equated with religion.
Religion is the attempt by the secular power to hijack the Divine itself as well as Faith in the Divine, and use both as a tool to advance the secular agenda. Religion attempts to replace Faith and harness the power of Faith for its own purposes. Religion grows apart from Faith because religion allows its leaders to see themselves as figures of authority [example: the “infallible” Pope] rather than just faithful believers. Religion does not nourish genuine Faith, instead it demands blind credulity to a set of man-made rules and regulations, devised by those claiming to speak on behalf of the Divine. Religion is nothing short of spiritual corruption. Faith promotes freedom of belief, religion crushes that freedom.
Having reduced blasphemy to a weapon for defending religious power rather than Faith, the second fundamental mistake becomes evident.
Secular blasphemy laws, which are needed to convict people of the crime of blasphemy, are the result of the unholy alliance between secular and religious “authority” to enforce the restrictive power of that religious authority in those areas of human existence where the secular cannot impose its own restrictions. However, this religious authority is only an authority with the blessing of the secular authority. If a religion is not accepted by the secular, it has no protection from the secular, it actually does not exist.
Blasphemy has not only lost its meaning, it has been reduced to a means for the secular of controlling Faith through religion. It is the passport handed out by the secular to the religious “authority” to justify its existence by declaring denial of power of religion as illegal. The Divine has simply been written out of the concept of blasphemy and the “laws” regulation it. One of the clearest indications of the above can be found in the Greek blasphemy laws which clearly state that blasphemy is committed by
One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ or any other religion tolerated in Greece …” The law protects the institution instead of the Divine.
This twisted way of looking at blasphemy is now being used to jail bloggers who insult religion, but do not necessarily issue a “declaration against Faith”, or cartoonists who insult a religious figure head, but not necessarily Faith, etc. A few days ago people shouted “blasphemy” when the play “Corpus Christi” was put up in Athens, but the very same people who shouted “blasphemy” that evening do not, despite the very specific Greek law, see their burning down of a makeshift mosque in Athens as blasphemy. In fact, they are correct. Their act of arson was a despicable, cowardly act of thuggery based on homophobia, but not an insult to the Divine involving a declaration against Faith. These actions also highlight another, often overlooked, aspect of Religion.
It can be seen that throughout history Religion and Fascism invariably gravitate towards one another. Not necessarily at the level of “the footsoldier”, but most definitely at leadership level. Nevertheless, in Greece, every Chrysi Avgi member will openly and defiantly declare his/her membership of the Orthodox Church of Greece as an important, integral part of, and reason for his/her Chrysi Avgi membership and support.
Why is this? For one reason, and one reason only. Religion is Fascism on a different, more subtle level. The raw, physical violence of the secular Fascist is not always echoed in the violence exerted on society by the Religious authority. Religious violence is much more refined, but as devastating. Witness to this the years of silence imposed on victims of clerical sexual abuse by the Church. Witness to this the recent labelling of homosexuals as “diseased” by the Greek Orthodox Church. Witness to this the labelling of the single, pregnant woman as “unworthy of motherhood”, etc.
Blasphemy has become a means of justifying the waving of religious symbols and protecting religious authority which invariably insist that everybody else is wrong. Blasphemy should be a means of guaranteeing respect for the universal Divine, by everyone. Like Faith, nobody has exclusivity on blasphemy. And nobody should be allowed to claim it.
Correcting this warped interpretation of blasphemy would go a long way in stopping the repetition of the recent violence, as it removes the perceived insult. It would also remove a very powerful control system used by authority against anybody who dares think different…
Ephilant 2 November 2012