Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) has introduced a resolution in Congress to combat global blasphemy laws. It's needed. Here's why:
SUPPORT H.RES. 290 NOW
By Martin Mawyer
Call them blasphemy laws. Call them public ordinances against religious insults. Call them out-of-control bureaucrats. Or call it employer revenge against outspoken critics of Islam.
There's a movement afoot in the western world to demonize, criminalize and punish those who speak out against Islam - even if they are simply telling the truth.
Just this week, Saudi Arabia demanded that nations around the world begin enacting blasphemy laws in an attempt to end insults against religion. We know what religion they mean: Islam.
"This requires everyone to intensify efforts to criminalize insulting heavenly religions, prophets, holy books, religious symbols and places of worship," said Abdulmajeed Al-Omari, a senior Saudi official.
Blasphemy laws are already spreading around the Western world.
Teachers have been fired for their Facebook posts. TV and radio commentators have been dismissed for their remarks. Bloggers have been jailed for their Internet writings. Politicians have been arrested for their on-air comments.
It's happening in the United States, Canada and all across Western Europe.
There are plenty of examples, but let's start with a Northern Ireland pastor who is facing prosecution for for calling Islam "Satanic."
In a sermon at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, also published on the Internet, Pastor James McConnell stated, "Islam is heathen. Islam is Satanic. Islam is a doctrine spawned in Hell."
After being hauled into a police station, the pastor issued an urgent and humble apology, hoping to avoid prosecution.
"I had no intention of causing any offense or insulting any member of the Muslim community," Pastor McConnell said in a statement read by his solicitor outside the police station. Even with the apology, Pastor McConnell still faces prosecution and up to six months in jail.
What law, exactly, did the pastor violate?
This is important to ask, because nowhere in Western society is there any such thing as a "blasphemy law." There are plenty of such laws in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of those 20 countries criminalize blasphemy.
But you will not find a law that specifically criminalizes blasphemy anywhere in Europe, Canada or the United States.
So how can Pastor McConnell face up to six months in jail for criticizing Islam?
Here's the problem. Though Western nations do not have so-called "blasphemy laws," they do have public orders and ordinances that prohibit insulting religions.
Pastor McConnell was arrested under the Communications Act of 2003, which criminalizes sending "a message or other matter that is grossly offensive."
Pastor McConnell is not alone in violating such public orders that criminalize offensive speech against Muslims.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolf was arrested in Austria in 2009 for saying, "Muhammad had a thing for little girls."
Also in 2009, a Christian couple who ran a hotel in Liverpool, England were arrested for saying "Muhammad was a warlord."
Dutch politician Geert Wilders was charged around the same time with "inciting hatred" in the Netherlands for producing a film, called Fitna, which criticizes radical Islam.
The other cases are far too numerous to cite here.
The point is that even though Western society does not have "blasphemy" laws, it can criminalize offensive speech that insults religion.
And let's be clear about one thing. Even though these laws apply to every religion, you will not find a single case - not one instance - of a citizen who was arrested for criticizing Christianity. You will, however, find dozens upon dozens of cases of citizens being arrested, fined and fired throughout the Western world for criticizing Islam.
No one is spared from these laws. British politician Paul Weston was handcuffed simply for quoting a Winston Churchill passage that said Islam "is a militant and proselytizing faith."
Legendary film actress Brigitte Bardot has gone to trial five times in France for insulting Muslims and "inciting racial hatred." Bardot's most recent arrest
was prompted after she wrote, "I am fed up with being under the thumb of this population which is destroying us, destroying our country."
None of these people was arrested under laws criminalizing blasphemy. Still, anyone with common sense knows that's exactly why they were arrested.
A growing list of Western countries ban "religious insult," which is nothing but another name for the "crime" of blasphemy: Denmark, Spain, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy and Norway, to name a few.
Committing these "religious insults" can get a person fired, fined or jailed. In the case of 11 workers inside the headquarters of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris this past January, the penalty was violent death.
Even though no American state or federal laws ban insulting Islam, there are still disturbing trends toward such legislation that cannot be ignored.
American teachers have been fired or forced to retire for making anti-Islamic remarks. Talk show hosts have been fired for merely expressing suspicion of Muslims. A TSA officer in Chicago was fired over a Facebook post calling Islam a "filthy religion."
A U.S. Army instructor at West Point, Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley, was fired for teaching an elective class titled, "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism."
Even our organization, Christian Action Network, has been the target of this self-styled blasphemy enforcement.
In 2009, the State of Maine fined our organization $4,000 for sending out literature that its bureaucrats found "offensive to Muslims." In reality, we simply sent out a mailing detailing an Islamic education program that was being taught in a California public school. We won the case, but the legal battle cost us more than $4,000.
There are plenty of other American cases.
A U.S. appeals court ordered Google Inc. to remove an anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims. Google won the case only recently, in May.
As an extreme example, let's not forget the two Muslims - armed to the teeth - who traveled to Garland, Texas, to murder participants at a "Draw Muhammad" contest in early May.
Perhaps the best example of blasphemy enforcement coming to America is a statement by Bill Killian, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee and now involved in the investigation of the July 16 shootings of military personnel in Chattanooga, Tenn. Killian has vowed to use federal civil rights statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech about Islam.
Impossible you say? Not in America? Not here? Think again.
- In July of this year, police arrested a Massachusetts man for calling his Muslim neighbor a terrorist. He was charged with violating the Muslim man's civil rights. The man might be crude and obnoxious, for sure, and not a desirable neighbor. But since when is name-calling a "civil rights" crime?
How silly is this? I can think of numerous people who could have been jailed for calling me names -- names less gentle than "terrorist."
- In Wichita, Kan., a pastor was arrested for handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk near a mosque. Police charged Pastor Mark Holick with loitering and disrupting a business. He eventually went to trial and a jury convicted him. Holick was fined $300, given a year of probation and ordered to stay at least 1,000 feet away from the Islamic center.
Insulting Islam is becoming a criminal, punishable, job-ending matter not just in the Middle East, Europe and Canada, but here in America as well.
Congressman Joseph Pitts' bill in Congress, H. Res. 290, will not put all this to rest. But it's a start. And the congressman has seen enough.
"Christianity is under real threat of extermination," Rep. Pitts said upon introducing his bill.
He decried countries with blasphemy laws, and those who punish individuals for defaming a religion. "In these countries, the strong are oppressing the vulnerable for no other reason than their religious beliefs," he stated.
For these reasons, Rep. Pitts introduced "H. Res. 290 - Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy laws." You can read it here.
I have already contacted Speaker Boehner. Please join me.
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Martin Mawyer is the Founder and President of Christian Action Network, a non-profit public advocacy and education group based in Lynchburg, Virginia. He began his career as a freelance journalist and has authored several books, including "Silent Shame," "The Pro-Family Contract With America," "Pathways to Success," and his most recent, "Twilight in Am
erica: The Untold Story of Islamic Terrorist Training Camps Inside America." He has produced a number of documentary films, includingHomegrown Jihad,Islam Rising, Sacrificed Survivors and America's Islamic Threat. Mawyer has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, Larry King Live, Pat Robertson's 700 Club, NBC's Today Show, Entertainment Tonight and Fox and Friends. His latest book, "Twilight in America," co-authored by Patti A. Pierucci, details the activities of Islamic camps scattered throughout the United States operated by The Muslims of America. It can be purchased at Amazon.com in book or Kindle version.