Blasphemy and the Constitution

 

Sir, – I am a believing and church-going Christian but I strongly believe that the provision regarding blasphemy should be removed from the Constitution and from law.

When then-minister for justice Dermot Ahern reaffirmed blasphemy legislation, I said that the Muslim countries would lose no time in pointing to the existence of such legislation in the heart of the European Union as a way of deflecting attacks from their barbarous treatment of so-called heretics. Within six weeks I was proved right and one of the these countries (I think Pakistan) did exactly that.

It is time we moved into the 21st century. It is nothing but impertinence for humans to presume to protect God. – Yours, etc,

Senator DAVID NORRIS,

Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – I have recently received a copy of the Referendum Commission’s Guide to the Referendum on Blasphemy. I have noted the importance of the word “morality” in the relevant text.

The meaning and scope of a moral code differs from society to society even within the western world. It also differs over time within any one society. For example, in western societies slavery was morally acceptable, even by ecclesiastical authorities, until relatively recently.

Today in our small country we have seen significant differences in the understanding and scope of morality – witness the abortion issue which demonstrated serious differences between morality as understood by the churches, as understood by civil law, as understood by lay people and presumably as understood by constitutional lawyers.

The Constitution states that the rightful liberty of expression shall not be used to undermine morality. But morality according to what authority? Would it really be possible to acceptably define such a mercurial and nebulous concept?

Perhaps a more just solution would be to remove the word “morality” along with “blasphemy” from the Constitution. – Yours, etc,

BRUCE BELL,

Youghal,

Co Cork.

Sir, – The removal of the word blasphemy from the Constitution will afford antagonists of Christianity the freedom to profane the name of my Lord and saviour Jesus Christ without restraint. I have, on a number of occasions, had people speak vulgar profanities against my God and His holy word (the Bible). The fact that this will no longer be forbidden by law, if the referendum is carried, will leave genuine Christians who share the Gospel more exposed than ever to such antagonism. – Yours, etc,

JOHN McATEER,

Thurles, Co Tipperary.