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"Militant Atheist" found guilty of religious harassment

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William Crawley | 16:47 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

prayerroom.jpg"The airport is named after one of my heroes and his view on religion was pretty much the same as mine. I thought it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in his airport." That was part of the evidence given in court by the self-styled "militant atheist" campaigner Harry Taylor, 59, to explain why he left anti-religious materials in the multi-faith Prayer Room of Liverpool's John Lennon Airport (pictured).

The jury of ten women and two men, at Liverpool Crown Court wasn't having it. It took them just 15 minutes to find Mr Taylor guilt of "religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress" after viewing the "grossly abusive and insulting" images in court. The cartoons -- which had been cut from newspapers, magazines and other mainstream publications -- included one showing a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of "no nails" glue. In another, the Pope is shown wearing a condom on his finger. Others featured Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise who are told, "Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins."

The airport's chaplain, Nicky Lees, told the court she "was insulted, deeply offended and . . . alarmed" when she found the images, and contacted the police.

Harry Taylor admitted leaving the images in the Prayer Room, but argued that he had a right to challenge the view of others and to try to persuade people of faith to convert to atheism, just as people of faith had a right in law to evangelize him. He also cited childhood mistreatment at the hands of Christian Brothers, while growing up in Dublin, as the reason why he had become so "strongly anti-religious".

Harry Taylor is now on bail awaiting sentencing on 23 April. Religiously aggravated offences carry a potential seven-year prison term.

The National Secular Society have supported Mr Taylor. They claim that new laws dealing with "religiously aggravated offences" amount to a blasphemy law in another guise.

Terry Sanderson, president of the society, said: "This is a disgraceful verdict, but an inevitable one under this pernicious law. It seems incredible in the 21st Century that you might be sent to prison because someone is 'offended' by your views on their religion . . . Mr Taylor struck me as slightly eccentric and he acted in a provocative way, challenging the necessity for the prayer room. He didn't cause any damage and he didn't harm anything, nor was he threatening or abusive. Yet he might still end up behind bars because some Christian has decided they are offended. In a multicultural society, none of us should have the legal right not to be offended. This law needs to be re-examined urgently."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.


    Eejit.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am offended on finding Gideons bibles in hotel rooms. My solution to the problem is to take the junk publications out and dump them into the nearest garbage can. It is an exhausting task.

    Airports are noisy, horrid places. Having a quiet room, accessible to all is a nice thing to do. Defining a quiet room for prayers isn't fair to the rest of the traveling public.

    If the guy simply left anti-religion material in a room that really shouldn't be segregated for superstition in the first place then, what is the big deal? The cleaners could be called and the material dumped. Hopefully Cherie Blair will be the judge and rule that the man has no prior history of insulting believers, that he's a good Atheist and let the matter go.

    Honestly though, why are some wasting court time with such trivial issues?

  • Comment number 3.


    Following the link above to the multi faith prayer room we read, "Resources are provided for those who would say that they do not profess a faith as such."

    But would that not mean...


    And then I thought, "Airport. Prayer Room." And then I thought, "Aircraft Maintenance Engineer."

  • Comment number 4.


    Why do some atheists expend so much time and energy shaking their fists at a God they claim does not exist?

    And why is it so important to them that everyone should believe what they believe?

    Or don't believe?

    Delete as applicable

    >8-D

  • Comment number 5.

    Our "offence culture" is becoming truly pathetic.

    Mr Taylor's contribution to the prayer room is something I find disagreeable (from the sound of it), but if I had seen his "offering" I expect I would be quite encouraged at the thought that he clearly regards "religion" (however that is supposed to be defined) as important enough to him to hate to such an extent. It's almost a commendation, in a strange, inverted kind of way.

    I can only speak for myself as a Christian, but this kind of picky, sulky, self-absorbed, "persecution obsessed", hyper-sensitive attitude of "offence taking" at every slight and perceived slight will be the death of this country, quite frankly.

    I have the right to strongly disagree with atheism (which I do), and to express that view in perhaps colourful ways that reflect how I feel about what I consider to be a ridiculous explanation of reality. Therefore I have to also accept that atheists may have equally strong views that might offend me. It's called freedom of thought and conscience.

    It seems to me that what really lies behind this hyper-sensitive "offence taking" is a kind of self-centredness in which people refuse to engage with others or allow other people's lives to impact their own: "I want to live in my cosy little world, and woe betide anyone who says or does anything to disturb me." It's quite existentialist in a Sartrean kind of way: "Hell is other people" said the great Jean-Paul. It has absolutely nothing to do with authentic Christianity.

    So here's the solution: dump the offending material in the garbage, acquit Mr Taylor, and let's all grow up and move on.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Harry Taylor admitted leaving the images in the Prayer Room, but argued that he had a right to challenge the view of others and to try to persuade people of faith to convert to atheism, just as people of faith had a right in law to evangelize him."

    Yep, those images nearly had me converted. I read a few Chick publications, and now I'm back on the straight and narrow.

    The guy's a twit, but I don't think that we're helping anyone by making him into a martyr. And Lucy is correct - it does seem to be waste of the court's time. Couldn't the airport just bar him unti he promises to behave? Am I missing something?

    Now, I'm off to burn all those offensive copies of "The God Delusion" at the local libraries. Phew, it's exhausting work. But you know, I just hate being in the same room as them.

    GV

  • Comment number 7.

    Since the christians stopped being allowed to kill non believers we have become a bit outspoken. I have pretty low expectations from a faith that is based on so much hate.... Luke 14.26. I viewed with dismay fellow faith followers as they were photographed stoning an adulterer to death in the Sunday Times magazine. I guess to inflict pain and suffering is a central part of the Jewish faith and it's related faiths of christianity and islam. Send him to prison for leaving material others found to be offensive. Then maybe those who push religious materials through my letter box, even though I have informed them I find it offensive, will think twice before they do it again. Thank you Nicky Lees, you have just done non religious people in Northern Ireland a great service.

    Question..... How do you explain the christian faith without sounding....?

    Kind regards to all believers and non believers.
    DK

  • Comment number 8.

    First the rack to make the serpent repent his sins, then burn the heretic at the stake. We'll show him just how effective British justice can be. No servant of the devil shall utter a word in the Kingdom and be left unpunished.

  • Comment number 9.

    Atheists have aright to practice their faith. It is their silent room too.They should join the interfaith dialogue which has come a long way in each faith respecting the other.

  • Comment number 10.

    Atheism is not a faith just as not believing in Santa, Satan or the tooth fairy is not a faith. The word atheism always struck me as odd, though I can see the perfect logic in the use of the term. I prefer to be called normal.

    Regards
    DK

  • Comment number 11.

    if atheism isn't a faith then you've got the whole airport as your silent room so what's the problem.

  • Comment number 12.

    David

    Preach it brother! Amen and not-hallelujah!

    (We can say that now because Lenin and Stalin have stopped shooting believers in Liverpool's Airports.)

    GV

  • Comment number 13.

    #7

    "I guess to inflict pain and suffering is a central part of the Jewish faith..."

    Would you care to elaborate?

  • Comment number 14.

    Mind you, potentially 7 years in jail for being a bit rude to some Christians and Muslims sems over the top.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello nobledeebee,

    "Mind you, potentially 7 years in jail for being a bit rude to some Christians and Muslims sems over the top."

    The maximum sentence for leaving cartoons in a prayer room is peanuts compared to what a christian couple got in Pakistan for touching the Koran with dirty fingers: 25 years in jail.

    https://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5654/pub_detail.asp

    We should get rid of religion. Yesyes, I know believers built some schools. Oh, and a hospital too. But that doesn't quite make up for the bad effects.

  • Comment number 16.

    An anti-freedom law just part of the shameful legacy of arch-religionist Tony Blair .... freedom of speech is dead in Britain. You can't have as the weasal words of the prosecutor stated 'freedom of speech BUT'.

    Nicky Lees the woman in charge of the prayer room could simply have binned the images and not wasted taxpayers money on a pointless prosecution - I find it hard to believe she really 'alarmed'. I find her actions shameful.

    The whole idea of a prayer room at the airport is an 'insult' in itself to the memory of John 'imagine no religion' Lennon.

  • Comment number 17.

    "the shameful legacy of arch-religionist Tony Blair"

    Actually, the NSS couldn't have this more wrong. The Evangelical Alliance is deeply concerned at this trend in legislation. You cannot talk about religion in the public square without offending someone. The effect of blasphemy laws will be to force religion out of the public square, and into the private sphere.
    That will make religion immune to criticism which, quite correctly, angers Secularists. But it will also make it impossible to proselytise. This concerns evangelicals. It is, arguably, a blow against religious expression in a multi-cultural society.
    I'll just recommend once more the thoughts of the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his book "The Home We Build Together".

    GV

  • Comment number 18.

    I think that this is the sad lesson to be learned about the suffering caused to this poor man by those who profess to be Christians. When someone professes to be a Christian and doesn't follow Christ, then behold the consequences. It starts with small things and progresses onwards.

    "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, FORBIDDING TO MARRY, and commanding to ABSTAIN FROM FOODS which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving." (1 Timothy 4:1-4)

    "...but if they cannot exercise self-control, LET THEM MARRY. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:9)

    "Now when Jesus had come into PETER'S house, He saw his WIFE’s mother lying sick with a fever." (Matthew 8:14)

    "Do we have no right to take along a believing WIFE, as do also the OTHER APOSTLES, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas [i.e. PETER]?" (1 Corinthians 9:5)

  • Comment number 19.

    Scotch-git
    Just because someone is not a believer doesn't make them a atheist. Where the important bit comes in, is the persistent requirement of religious believers to have special privileges because they are religious, yes I do think religion is nonsense but If you or anyone else is taken in by religious nonsense that's your choice fine.

    Why do you think being religious entitles you to various privileges?

    I don't care what you believe, just don't expect me to pay for your beliefs through my taxes.

    This is only one example; we all pay for NHS chaplains via our tax, whilst I am sure that they do a good job, I contend you're religious you pay for them, because I don't want to, although I have no wish to stop them doing their job for the diminishing amount of deluded people that still want them.

    By the way I am not an atheist, I do not shake my fist at something that for which there is very little evidence, I am not afairyist either.

  • Comment number 20.


    Graham, are you offended, I'm not offended.

    For goodness sake just let the guy off.

    To be honest there's probably more 'risky' evangelism 'props'; and professing Christians using God's name carelessly like saying, as I just did, "For goodness sake", is probably a bigger problem. (at least for them, or me.)




  • Comment number 21.


    PeterK

    "We should get rid of religion." How?


    Carl

    "I find it hard to believe she really 'alarmed'." I agree. An airport emergency, on the other hand, would be alarming.

    Ipilova

    "A fairyist"? The best word I've read in ages!


    David

    "Question..... How do you explain the christian faith without sounding....?"

    No idea. But if I prayed about it do you think God would tell me the last word?


    Uno

    Atheists should join interfaith dialogue in a silent room?


    LucyQ

    Similar question. "Defining a quiet room for prayers isn't fair to the rest of the traveling public." If it's a quite room how would anyone know anyone else was praying? But I agree putting a quiet room in an airport isn't fair to rail travellers.


    And yes, the whole sorry tale is a daft as this post!


  • Comment number 22.

    Hello petermorrow,

    ""We should get rid of religion." How?"

    Education. It's a wonderful antidote against superstitions. Not all of it obviously, but the kind geared towards promoting curiosity, inquisitiveness, questioning, wanting to learn how things work, reasoning, etc.

  • Comment number 23.

    PeterM

    Nope, I'm not offended. I believe that some of the pamphlets may have had sexual images, and there was a female chaplain. Maybe she had some grounds for complaint there. Maybe not, it depends on the images, and the news is vague about them.

    She never should have complained about religious offence.

    Of course if Mr Taylor had left crude images of John Lennon in the airport, they'd have spared the courts time and just lynched him.

    GV

  • Comment number 24.


    PeterK

    "Education"

    You obviously don't mean Sunday School! :-)


    Graham

    It's been noted before, I know, but there is a certain irony regarding a religious room in an airport named after John Lennon.

  • Comment number 25.

    #19

    lpilova,

    You may not regard yourself as an atheist, but Harry Taylor is. Indeed, he describes himself as a militant athiest.

    BTW, what are these "special privileges" of which you speak, and where do I sign up for them?

  • Comment number 26.

    #22 - PeterKlaver -

    "Education. It's a wonderful antidote against superstitions. Not all of it obviously, but the kind geared towards promoting curiosity, inquisitiveness, questioning, wanting to learn how things work, reasoning, etc."

    Excellent.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I'm all for curiosity, questioning, inquisitiveness and most of all: reasoning.

    My pursuance of these activities is the reason why I am not an atheist.

    (Or is it the 'Orwellian' case of: we can all ask whatever questions we like as long as we make sure that we draw the only "acceptable" naturalistic conclusions? Perish the thought!)

  • Comment number 27.

    Scotch-git


    "I guess to inflict pain and suffering is a central part of the Jewish faith..."


    I cannot speak for others but the only reason I pay faith groups any notice at all is because we live with terrible events associated with the teachings of the main religions. Help me out....How many rules did god pass on to humankind? 613? 615? How many ended with .... they should be stoned/killed/put to death etc.... you may elect to ignore your god's rules but sadly too many in this world take them seriously.


    UFO followers are not killing and maiming because of what they believe.... that's why I don't bother with them, faith followers on the other hand..... they have my full attention.

    I still think Nicky Lee has done something very interesting.

    Kind regards

    DK

  • Comment number 28.

    Dear Nicky Lees

    I am writing on behalf of non believers everywhere.
    Thank you for saying you were offended by a batch of satirical cartoons.
    By this action alone you have opened up a can of worms and now many are discussing the impact of your good work on freedom of speech.

    I have no doubt the youth of today will side with your conservative reaction to humour when they hear about it.... and they will hear about it.

    Of course the down side is, because of you, everyone will have to take care not to offend. As a result of your actions many an incident where a christian accosts members of the public on their doorsteps or in the street, threatening them with your loving god's murderous wrath, should he elect to show up again, will now have the potential to become a court case.

    I really, really could not thank you enough.

    Regards

    DK

    Please do not take me to court!

  • Comment number 29.

    #27

    Mr. Kerr,

    Thank you for your kind regards. I'm afraid any attempt by me to explain the Rabbis' attitude to capital punishment would be rambling and incoherent. I'll follow the path of least resistance and post a couple of links, which you can peruse at your leisure.

    The first is a BBC page with a brief explanation. You can follow the link to a more detailed Wikipedia page there or here.

    Please try to erase the mental picture of John Cleese in 'The Life of Brian.'

    >8-D

    Orrabest, S-g

  • Comment number 30.

    Bibles are left in prayer rooms and chapels...has no-one read the offensive material in that book?

  • Comment number 31.

    I don't know what people are slabbering about!, my own children who are committed Christians have to face the onslaught off arrogant science education and other forms off atheism on a daily basis.

    3dots... many years ago, when I was somewhat of an loyalist atheist, I used to throw the bible down the room because it was offensive to me, but then it came to me? why the heck am I so ANGRY about a book "that" I don't even Believe in?.

  • Comment number 32.

    That was an interesting read Mr Git, thankyou for the links. It does seem to be one of those examples of ‘Espoused rhetoric' over ‘Theory in action’. The ancient Hebrew bible states, without ambiguity, god’s laws. It is uplifting to note the Rabbis in the first century, like many modern Christian societies, do not follow these laws. However, three faiths are grounded in these texts and the words reverberate till this day. Most, like the early followers ignored them, but throughout the centuries many have not.

    Non believers only pay faiths attention because of the harm they do. As the old saying goes, ‘There are many who have died in the name of gentle Jesus meek and mild.’

    Regards
    DK

  • Comment number 33.

    #32

    Including many of his coreligionists.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ john dynes - Ouch!

    "I don't know what people are slabbering about!, my own children who are committed Christians"

    Did you indoctrinate the children from infancy without giving them the freedom to mature and discover for themselves if any religion is true?

    "have to face the onslaught off arrogant science education and other forms off atheism on a daily basis."

    Parenting means preparing children to lead emotionally healthy lives and that they become productive members of the community. Without a science education that is pretty much impossible these days.

    How come y'all haven't got that religions were invented and gods created because developing humans feared and didn't understand death? Since ancient times supernatural science fiction tales have been used to manipulate and control the tribe.

    re: The story, surely is preposterous that the man who left material the airport room should suffer any consequences. If he does it reflects the immorality and bully of delusional believers.

  • Comment number 35.

    My kids make their own choices in Life as I did, if they want to be non-religious that's ok or if they want to be religious, then that's ok too.

    Also, some of my Kids love science and everything in it "but" when science starts to take sides about it, is there? or isn't there?, then a new religion has been born called "tribal atheism" which have no clue to what is right or wrong but only what their own understanding tells them which is the correct one.

    ps... some off the most dangerous serial killers within the history of the world were atheist who thought that they were doing right.

  • Comment number 36.

    @ john dynes

    "ps... some off the most dangerous serial killers within the history of the world were atheist who thought that they were doing right."

    That old line has been debunked.

    Mr. H. learned his brutal trade at Roman Catholic schools, etc. Please do some fact checking before doing that stuff. Stalin, seminarian, I could go on. Germany and Austria still proclaim Holy Roman Empire, ugh.
    History, while collective hallucination, can be sussed out with science to reveal facts. Science is exquisite.

    Counting those abused in by clerics (see Ireland 2009) and forgetting that all modern wars are justified by this, that or the the other monotheism is just plain true.

    There is zero, nada, NO evidence for anything supernatural. Gods don't cause earthquakes shifting tectonic plates do.

    You said that your kids are devout Christians is that something they were initiated into as infants or did the decide to join as adults with free will?

    May I suggest that all would get a kick out of Hitchens doing the 10 (see video) for Vanity Fair this month:

    https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2010/04/hitchens-201004

    Personally I can't see why anyone would waste life groveling before imaginary gods. There is so much more to do.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am offended on finding Gideons bibles in hotel rooms

    You might very well be Lucy. However, the Gideon's bibles don't contain nasty and offensive pictures of say Richard Dawkins or P.Z. Myers for example. It's not Mr Taylor's right to be an Atheist that is on trial here, but the offensive materal that he left behind. Had it just been a pure and simple tract explaining Atheism no one would have batted an eyelid. As has been quite correctly pionted out, the man's an eejit/twit.

    To be honest, although a possible 7 year jail sentance seems somewhat harsh, I'm surprised the National Secular Society is supporting such an extremist. He can't be giving Atheism a good name. It'd be like a church backing John Freshwater.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hello LSV,

    "Or is it the 'Orwellian' case of: we can all ask whatever questions we like as long as we make sure that we draw the only "acceptable" naturalistic conclusions? Perish the thought!"

    No need to make sure people draw the right conclusions when going through their education, they do so by themselves most of the time anyway. Let me post a link that came up earlier here on W&T:

    https://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=402381&c=2

    Whether you go along with the conclusions of the paper or not, there are some interesting numbers in there, that once again show the inverse relationship between religious adherence and intelligence. As had been shown so many times before.

    And while you claim that inquisitiveness, reasoning etc (it doesn't always shine through in your posts) keep you from being an atheist, plenty of your fellow christians have no wish to make that false claim. They're more than happy to acknowledge that it is a choice between faith or reason. See for example

    https://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/we_arent_going_to_kiss_and_mak.php

    or how the very idea of higher education is viewed as a bad thing (yes, I know JWs are a different flavour of christian than you are):

    https://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/its_a_gateway_drug_to_a_lifeti.php

  • Comment number 39.


    PeterK

    The scineceblogs links you gave do indeed make me wince, however, I'm not convinced, not convinced at all, that intelligence is a measure of the value or character of a human being.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hello petermorrow,

    "I'm not convinced, not convinced at all, that intelligence is a measure of the value or character of a human being."

    While I do appreciate intelligence in the persons I deal with on a personal level, I would agree that there are many more measures of a persons character. Intelligence might not be the most important of them. But intelligence is overwhelmingly important indirectly, in people you don't know or who are dead and whose character is irrelevant to you. Because of what those intelligent people contribute that is of benefit to others. Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man to work with. And I could name plenty of brilliant names of people in history who were of quite unpleasant character. But would you like to do without what those brilliant economists, scientists, artists, writers, etc did?

  • Comment number 41.

    This remains an extremely important ruling. I looked at the material, my word there is worse on television every night. Does Ms Lees have a television set? Is she heading back to court?

    Taylor made an error.... but to say he broke a law with this material is madness.

    DK

  • Comment number 42.

    Calling the cops because after encountering something distasteful is childish. Pick up offensive litter and pitch it in the trash. Surely the courts have more important matters for consideration.

  • Comment number 43.

    PeterH, actually, Gideon bibles do contain some very offensive material; we have discussed some of the nasty rubbish in there on previous occasions - 1 Sam 15 for example. When I visit hotels (which is not that often), I routinely annotate the Gideon's bibles with pointers to passages for people to look up and see the mess that the bible really is, and the unpleasantness of the prophets and the imaginary space pixie they supposedly represent. Not deface, I would insist, but illuminate. The bible is a superb atheist source book, and needs some helpful marginalia.

  • Comment number 44.

    But would the folks who come into the room after know if an atheist or a FreeP did the highlighting?

    (-;

  • Comment number 45.

    "I looked at the material, my word there is worse on television every night. Does Ms Lees have a television set? Is she heading back to court?"

    Whoa... That's an important point! Where does this leave public broadcasting?

    Or cinemas? (Life of Brian? Exorcist?)

    Or open air preaching? Even the nice dudes with flannel graphs could end up in trouble if they start talking about the deity of Christ ('shirk' in Islam, offensive stuff) in public.

    My word, this is a mess!

    GV

  • Comment number 46.

    "Pick up offensive litter and pitch it in the trash. Surely the courts have more important matters for consideration."

    I'm 100% in agreement! This episode is, on reflection, quite scary! When we need the law to enforce good manners, it's the beginning of the end.

  • Comment number 47.

    Bria, I thought you were good on SunSeq this morning. Amazingly David McIlveen realised the dangers of this situation for the "faith lobby", so ya gotta hand that to him. Of course he didn't (and doesn't) realise the spectacular silliness of pulling up that tired old verse "The fool says in his heart" etc, but apart from that tiresome cabbage, it was a pleasant enough discussion. I hope it gets "Humanist Ireland" a wider readership (and maybe younger - there's a generational image you'll need to shift there ;-).

    Will, good to have Chris Hudson on the earlier segment about Civil Partnerships. I thought he trashed the chappie from the Evilangelical Alliance.

    -H

  • Comment number 48.

    I routinely annotate the Gideon's bibles with pointers to passages for people to look up and see the mess that the bible really is, and the unpleasantness of the prophets and the imaginary space pixie they supposedly represent.

    I'll be honest Helio, I've actually found them useful in hospitals when suffering a great deal of pain and discomfort post op from the numerous bouts of relatively major surgery that I've had. From experience, suffering pain is a very, very lonely experience. Hospital staff on these occasions are absolutely useless and in my experience, make the situation worse. In no way did I find the bibles offensive, Sam 15 or otherwise.

    I'm disapointed though, that the Gideons are backing Ham's crazy museum but that's another matter

    As Wiliiam quite correctly pointed out, perhaps a copy of Humanist Ireland (or whatever the equivelent in the UK is) would have been more appropriate. Had I been anxious and, having gone into the room to reflect come across Taylor's cartoons, I'd probably have been offended and binned the rubblish. The guy was way over the top and no better than wackjobs such as John Freshwater in my opinion. Had it been a Humanist/Atheist Tract I might very well have picked up and read it. I did agree with Brian this morning that the court case was ridiculous and a jail sentance should be opposed by any right thinking person.

    As you say Helio, Brian was good on S.S. though he seemed to have been impressed with the piece on derek Bingham as he coulden't get Derek out of his head.

  • Comment number 49.

    The more I think about this, the more upset it makes me. Basically, this guy left satirical cartoons in a public prayer room at an airport. The cartoons were as follows:

    "One image showed a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of "no nails" glue.

    In another, Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise are told: " Stop, stop, we've run out of virgins." ... See more

    A further cartoon showed two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption: "Not for women or gays, obviously."

    I simply cannot believe, that In 2010, in the UK, this guy has [amazingly] been found guilty of a ridiculous version of an antiquated blasphemy law, and could go to jail for 7 years (the maximum sentence for this 'crime').

    He's going to jail for satirical cartoons that pose less harm than anything you'll find thrown at - for example; political figures in any daily tabloid. Not only that, but he's going to jail for taking the mickey out of people and figureheads from faiths believing in *nonexistent* mythological entities!

    Could I go to jail for posting my views on here?! Jesus Christ!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Well, as Brian pointed out, this sets a marvellous legal precedent (as David McIlveen also identified). Aggressive evangelism could land some of the tract-meisters in prison. I'm not sure whether anyone in the UK is stupid enough to hand out Jack Chick cartoons, but I *have* seen Ken Ham tracts, which are offensive to anyone with a brain. So if this gets the Cornmarket cornballs locked up, who's complaining? It's pretty clear what direction the main volume of nonsense is coming from.

    [The astute members of the commenters club will notice that any irony is intentional]

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi Peter (48):

    Well spotted. I was listening to the Derek Bingham extract on the way in and was touched by it. I featured with him on an Explorations programme (it used to replace Sunday Sequence in the summer) and he was very friendly and respectful (none of this 'the fool, hath said in his heart...' posturing).

    There was a lot more I had minded to say, including that the most 'offence' against religion historically has come from the religious themselves when attacking other religions, eg. Paisley: 'you are the antichrist' to the Pope in the European Parliament and the current pope: Protestant churches are not real churches; Islam is irrational etc.

  • Comment number 52.

    Helio

    You mean you don't buy Ray Comfort's argument from the banana?
    I'm offended by your skepticism.

    Off to jail with ye!

  • Comment number 53.

    My wife has just scolded me for criticising Ray Comfort. She says he sounds like a twit when he talks about the banana. But she doesn't see why I need to be so derogatory about people I disagree with.

    So I've been rude about another Christian.
    Which is deeply offensive to some Christians.

    So off to jail with me too!

  • Comment number 54.


    Helio

    What's wrong with cornballs? They're really rather nice, especially if you add a bit of chilli to the mix. BTW Lark News dot com have posted a rip off of a Jack Chick comic featuring Garfield the cat, but I think I've already posted the link on the blogroll thread. (come to think of it the first 'l' is really important there!)

    And a question H, if I accepted a tract, say in Cornmarket of a Saturday morning and then threw it down in frustration or whatever, would I be the one liable for a litter fine? And I'll presume you haven't taken up the offer of prayer for healing under one of the banners?

    Brian

    You are quite right, when it come to causing offence the religious don't set the best of examples, and is coupled with an ability to take offence unlike any other.

  • Comment number 55.


    You mean, Graham, you said more than 'twit'?

  • Comment number 56.

    Graham, tell Wilma (in-joke, kids - just me & Graham ;-) that if you can't criticise other Christians, you leave them free rein to generate all sorts of error (and few have made such a career of that as Comfort). If you *really* think that Jesus could even be *bothered* to save Comfort, then you must realise that all must be saved. You're a Universalist!

  • Comment number 57.

    Anyway, why *can't* you be derogatory about someone? Surely you should be following the example of Jesus, who was as derogatory as get out about some people. The secret is that you're not being derogatory for the heck of it - you have genuine ammo, and you're simply adding a little colour...

  • Comment number 58.

    Helio

    The colonel doesn't mind me criticising, but says that I have to think carefully before I type, and use polite moderate language when talking with anyone I disagree with. *Whatever* their faith!

    It sounds like one of those wacky proposals that only scientologists and womens study groups could endorse. Sure, it's a constructive idea that would lead to better understanding, but where's the fun??!

    GV

  • Comment number 59.

    Huh, girls, eh?! :-)

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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