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Christianity vs. freedom of expression

January 15, 2015

It is easy to forget that freedom of expression is a relatively new thing, born of the Enlightenment, absent throughout most of human history. Lest anyone think Islam is the only religion that protects itself against blasphemy, we have modern day religious leaders running to condemn Charlie Hebdo. First is Pope Francis, spouting exactly the same line as the Islamic nations that outlaw blasphemy, saying he believes in freedom of speech, but:

You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.

I can think of no better measure of a nation’s regard for freedom of expression than whether it protects speech that mocks and insults its majority religion. Any liberal who thinks that Pope Francis is somehow friendlier to human liberty than past Popes should note this, and keep in mind the history and institutional constraints of the Catholic Church.

Bryan Fischer of the American Family association goes further, claiming that the Christian God used the jihadists to punish Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy.

Update: Salman Rushdie has just the right response.

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