By: MARGARET BROWN
WITH THE release of Gillian Gibbons from a Sudanese jail having served eight days of a short sentence for allowing a school teddy bear to be called Muhammad, once again the archaic Law on blasphemy in the statute book of the British legislature has come under scrutiny.
Failed prosecutions in 2002, 2005 and, last week, against Jerry Springer The Opera have proved that the law is unenforceable as freedom to express one’s opinions is protected by The Human Rights Act of 1998.
In November, the Christian think tank Ekklesia and Archbishop Carey both agreed that the law should be removed from the Statute Book.
This may be progress of a sort but it fails to recognise that Britain had a Christian core until the ‘swinging 60s’. A cultural upheaval among many of the rising generation resulted in meltdown of moral standards, the effect of which has been a decline in social behaviour.
While racism is punishable by law and Britain leans over backward to accommodate those who follow Islam and other faiths, it seems that offensive and outspoken denigration of Christ and the Church continues to be fair game.
Disputes involving one another’s religious beliefs would, at one time, have been settled out of court: those were the days when differences of opinion about race, colour or religion were not controlled by Act of Parliament.
Today, when immigrants come to Britain they find many freedoms, the exercising of which in their home countries might result in imprisonment, stoning and death by hanging.
Perhaps there needs to be a resurgence of mutual respect and tolerance before peace returns to the streets of Britain.