In solidarity with our friends of Atheist Ireland, we publish below a list of 26 blasphemous quotations which that organization has published in defiance of Ireland’s silly and dangerous blasphemy law. Canada also has a blasphemy law, a shameful vestige of the past, an antiquated low which theocracies point to as an excuse to justify their repression of free speech. However Ireland’s blasphemy law is more recent. Twenty-five of the following statements were first published by Atheist Ireland on 1st January 2010 when the Irish law became operational. The 26th and final quotation is from Stephen Fry who is under investigation by Irish police as a result of his statement.
The 26 statements are taken from the web site of Michael Nugent, president of Atheist Ireland.
2017-05-09: Stephen Fry blasphemy probe dropped after gardaí fail to find ‘substantial number of outraged people’
- Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.
- Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.
- Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.
- Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy — he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.
- Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”
- Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”
- James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.
- Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”
- Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”
- Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”
- Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”
- Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.
- Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”
- Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”
- George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”
- Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”
- Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.
- Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”
- Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”
- Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”
- Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”
- Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”
- Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.
- Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.
- As a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.
- Finally, here is the quote that has caused the Irish police to investigate Stephen Fry for blasphemy. Asked by Gay Byrne on RTE what he would say if he was confronted by God, Fry replied: “How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?” Questioned on how he would react if he was locked outside the pearly gates, he responded: “I would say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’ Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”
Jehovah, Christianity’s Almighty Lord God,
lords it over Heaven, though he’s an amoral clod.
He’s a jealous, genocidal misogynist too,
that capricious megalomaniac, and homophobe who
uses a minor god, Satan, for his cruel sadism in Hell,
torturing ‘sinners’ for all eternity, and atheists as well!
Now, as the problem of theodicy remains unresolved,
Jehovah, from his turpitude, cannot be absolved.
He’s his own father, and son, and a goddamn ghost;
some priests can conjure him up out of wine and toast.
Christians boast that their god, in his Empyrean lair,
is omniscient, omnipotent, beneficent and fair.
But should one do good works, or be born to the Elect?
To get a ticket to Heaven, which theology’s correct?
Confused by Christian dogma, no god-fearing fogey,
can fathom the nature of the Bible Bogey.
Yahweh, god of Zion, is a meshuggener and a jerk.
Oy vey! Why such strict rules on when to work,
and how to dress, and what to nosh or sip,
and mohals giving baby boys the snip?
Yahweh’s a nudnik; so, what else is new?
Is a shiksa blonde kosher? Is the Pope a Jew?
Mosaic Law, begot by Bronze Age nomads,
has got observant Jews by the gonads.
Allah, the god of Islam, is a fierce judgemental djinn,
but he’ll reward you with houris, if you submit to him.
Apostasy, from Islam, is treated just like a crime;
Moslems will threaten to kill you, to keep you in line.
And if you dare to draw Mohammad in a comic cartoon,
there’ll be chaos and killings from here to Khartoum.
So, face Mecca at prayer, five times a day at least,
and stick your ass up in the air for the Religion of Peace.
Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist,
Zoroastrian, Baha’i, Mormon, and Scientologist,
Spiritualist, Wiccan, the New-Ager into woo,
Confucianist, Shintoist, and Taoist too.
All the faithful, at prayer, look vacant or simple;
prayer’s ne’er been shown to work, not one jot or one tittle.
Yea, verily, those of each and every religion
are mired in the miasma of superstition.
All the gods from the Bronze Age up to modern times,
and from the Arctic down to tropical climes,
have begotten theology that’s unsubstantiated twaddle,
on what an invisible and silent god’ll
devise as its inscrutable, eschatological plan,
but all the gods were made in the image of man.
Materialistic monism makes for scientific understanding;
objective evidence for a spirit realm’s ubiquitously lacking.
So, why should yours be yet another ‘One True Faith’
in a magical, phantasmagorical, astral wraith?
The varieties of religious experience reveal
a sense of a god’s immanence can feel quite real,
but feelings of the numinous are clearly psychological,
so belief in a god is ludicrously illogical.
It’s evident we have just this one life,
with all its pleasures, challenges, toil, and strife.
As social beings we evolved our moral sensibility,
combating selfishness, lust, and venality.
Human evolution’s due to Natural Selection,
so life derives no purpose at any god’s direction.
Religion should have no say in the politics of a nation;
its revelations and dogmata lack a rational foundation.
Aristotle’s eudemonia, (human flourishing), conflicts
with the social engineering that religion inflicts
on societies that could democratically endorse
rationality-based ethics, mores and laws.
The most religious nations often are the most barbarian,
whereas the least religious are the most egalitarian.
Religion validates discrimination and oppression;
religious faith stifles policy on research and education.
Moderate religion’s the fertile soil, full of pious ordure,
wherein extremism takes root to terrorize and torture.
Holy texts, from ancient times, in ignorance divine,
were blind; LGBTQ and straight folk are all equally fine.
So, now a new era beckons, where humanity could be,
as reason infers, one great family.
But there’s no need for you to blame your genes;
your faith’s the fault of socio-religious memes.
They corrupted your mind with a contagious infection
of superstitious ideas that can’t stand close inspection.
So, cast them out, get rid of that insanity,
then you can revel in your unfettered HUMANITY!
Religion: Stone Age Invention, Bronze Age Consolidation, Medieval Reformation, and Modern Abomination.