April 3, 2014

Christian Extremists Want Public Floggings for Blasphemy

18th century illustration of Elizabeth Brownri...
18th century illustration of Elizabeth Brownrigg flogging a foundling servant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What would you do if you were in charge? It is an intriguing question, and it can be quite revealing in the sense that learning what someone would do if they were in charge provides some insight into their values and approach to morality.

What would Christian extremists do if they had the power to enact their will? Evidently, some would enact laws to punish blasphemy. Such laws would mandate physical punishment in the form of public flogging for those found guilty of blasphemy.

Those of us who write atheist blogs or who share anti-religious thoughts on social media would be convicted of blasphemy and beaten in public as a deterrent to others. This is apparently an image that some Christian extremists would fight quite delightful.

That such laws used to exist in the American colonies during the late 1600s is not surprising. That modern Christian extremists would like us to reenact such laws today is not terribly surprising either. It gives us some idea of what we are up against and reminds us why we oppose Christian extremism today.

Hearing about what Christian extremists would do if they had the power to turn their values into laws laws should motivate us to do what we can to keep them out of power and to preserve the separation of church and state. It should drive us to organize, become more politically active, and to remain vigilant about the threat they pose.

I know that the idea of the United States reenacting anti-blasphemy laws will strike many as farfetched. We hear the news that blasphemy laws are on the rise in some parts of the world, and we feel fortunate not to be a part of it. And yet, I think it is important for us to listen when Christian extremists tell us what they would do. It is even more important to recognize that our tendencies to resist organization, avoid activism, and disconnect from the political process make it at least somewhat more likely that this sort of thing could someday happen.

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