Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy, while others have laws that sanction those who are offended by blasphemy to effect their wrath on blasphemers. Those laws may condone penalties or retaliation for blasphemy under the labels of blasphemous libel, expression of opposition, or "villification," of religion or of some religious practices, religious insult, or hate speech.
The word "blasphemy" came via Middle English blasfemen and Old French blasfemer and Late Latin blasphemare from Greek βλασφημέω, from βλάπτω = "I injure" and φήμη = "reputation". From blasphemare also came Old French blasmer, from which English "blame" came. Blasphemy: 'from Gk. blasphemia "a speaking ill, impious speech, slander," from blasphemein "to speak evil of."' "In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps. 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse (1 Kings 21:10 LXX; Acts 13:45; 18:6, etc.)."
Blasphemy laws 
In some countries with a state religion blasphemy is outlawed under the criminal code. Such laws can be used to justify and sanction the terrorism, abuse, and murder of non-members of, and dissident members of, the state religion.
Christian theology condemns blasphemy. It is spoken of in Mark 3:29, where blaspheming the Holy Spirit is spoken of as unforgivable—the eternal sin. However, there is dispute over what form this blasphemy may take and whether it qualifies as blasphemy in the conventional sense; and over the meaning of "unforgivable". In 2 Kings 18, the Rabshakeh gave the word from the king of Assyria, dissuading trust in the Lord, asserting that God is no more able to deliver than all the gods of the land.
In Matthew 9:2, Jesus spoke the words "Your sins are forgiven you"; He was accused of blasphemy, since only God can forgive sins.
Blasphemy has been condemned as a serious, or even the most serious, sin by the major creeds and Church theologians (apostasy and infidelity [unbelief] were generally considered to be the gravest sins, with heresy a greater sin than blasphemy, cf. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae).
- Thomas Aquinas says that “[if] we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one's neighbor, than blasphemy does to God.”
- The Book of Concord calls blasphemy “the greatest sin that can be outwardly committed”.
- The Baptist Confession of Faith says: “Therefore, to swear vainly or rashly by the glorious and awesome name of God…is sinful, and to be regarded with disgust and detestation. …For by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked and because of them this land mourns.”
- The Heidelberg Catechism answers question 100 about blasphemy by stating that “no sin is greater or provokes God's wrath more than the blaspheming of His Name”.
- The Westminster Larger Catechism explains that “The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane...mentioning...by blasphemy...to profane jests, ...vain janglings, ...to charms or sinful lusts and practices.”
- Calvin found it intolerable “when a person is accused of blasphemy, to lay the blame on the ebullition of passion, as if God were to endure the penalty whenever we are provoked.”
Catholic prayers and reparations for blasphemy 
In the Catholic Church, there are specific prayers and devotions as Acts of Reparation for blasphemy. For instance, The Golden Arrow Holy Face Devotion (Prayer) first introduced by Sister Marie of St Peter in 1844 is recited "in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy". This devotion (started by Sister Marie and then promoted by the Venerable Leo Dupont) was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885. The Raccolta Catholic prayer book includes a number of such prayers. The Five First Saturdays devotions are done with the intention in the heart of making reparation to the Blessed Mother for blasphemies against her, her name and her holy initiatives.
The Holy See has specific "Pontifical organizations" for the purpose of the reparation of blasphemy through Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ, e.g. the Pontifical Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face.
Death sentence 
In Britain's last blasphemy execution, 20-year-old Thomas Aikenhead was executed for the crime in 1697. He was prosecuted for denying the veracity of the Old Testament and the legitimacy of Christ's miracles.
The Quran and the hadith do not mention any worldy punishment for blasphemy. Despite this, Islam also holds the bible holy, making its condemnation for blasphemy equally logical. Though according to Pakistani religious scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, nothing in Islam supports blasphemy law. Rather, Muslim jurists made the offense part of Sharia; the penalties for blasphemy can include fines, imprisonment, flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading. However, not only do the the vast majority of Islamic countries strongly discourage, if not legislate against, blasphemy, but many nations prescribe and carry out the death penalty for apostasy, a similarly motivated action. Muslim clerics may call for the punishment of an alleged blasphemer by issuing a fatwa (legal ruling). A famous case of the Islamic blasphemy law was the fatwa against English author Salman Rushdie for his book entitled The Satanic Verses, which title refers to an account that Muhammad, in the course of revealing the Quran, received a revelation from Satan and incorporated it therein until made by Allah to retract it (see Satanic verses). Several translators of his book into foreign languages have been killed.
In the third book of the Torah, Leviticus 24:16 states that he that blasphemes the name of the LORD "shall surely be put to death". See also List of capital crimes in the Torah. The Seven laws of Noah, which Judaism sees as applicable to all people, prohibit blasphemy.
The United Nations 
In the early 21st century, blasphemy became an issue for the United Nations. The General Assembly passed several resolutions which called upon the world to take action against the "defamation of religions."
Colloquial usage 
Blasphemy has been used to mean "irreverence" in a non-religious context. Sir Francis Bacon uses "blasphemy" in this way in Advancement of Learning, where he speaks of "blasphemy against teaching".
"Blasphemy" may be used as a substitute for "profanity" or "cursing" as it is used in this sentence: "With much hammering and blasphemy, the locomotive's replacement spring was finally fitted."
In contemporary language, the notion of blasphemy is often used hyperbolically. This usage has garnered some interest among linguists recently, and the word 'blasphemy' is a common case used for illustrative purposes.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Blasphemy|
- Eternal sin
- Freedom of speech versus blasphemy
- Minced oath
- Gerard Reve
- Verbal offence
- Victimless crime
- Blasphemy Day is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to openly express their criticism of, or even disdain for, religion.
- "Blasphemy | Define Blasphemy at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- See Blasphemy law.
- Kerr, ine (9 July 2009). "Libel and blasphemy bill passed by the Dail". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- "ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1991 – SECT 124A 124A Vilification on grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity unlawful". Austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "Victoria Police – Racial and religious vilification". Police.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), ''Report on the relationship between freedom of expression and freedom of religion: the issue of regulation and prosecution of blasphemy, religious insult and incitement to religious hatred'', 17–18 October 2008, Doc. No. CDL-AD(2008)026". Merlin.obs.coe.int. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- See Blasphemy law and Hate speech.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary – Blasphemy". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- (from Easton's Bible Dictionary) – –
- Sources of claims:
- World of Intolerance Religious Watch. Retrieved 5 October 2011
- United Nations will violate Human Rights International Humanist and Ethical Union. Retrieved 5 October 2011
- "Muslim scholar says Scrap blasphemy laws". Herald Malaysia Online. 11 August 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom May 2009 (Pakistan, etc.). Retrieved 5 October 2011
- A call upon states to work toward abolishing the juvenile death penalty U.N. January 1999. Retrieved 5 October 2011
- Indonesia – Amnesty International Report 2009 Amnesty International. Retrieved 5 October 2011
- ST II-II q10a3, q11a3, q12. Q11A3: "With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."
- Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica 2:2, q. 13.
- The Book of Concord The Large Catechism, §55.
- The Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 23, §2–3.
- The Heidelberg Catechism Q. 100.
- Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 113.
- Jean Calvin: Harmony of the Law vol. 4. Lev. 24:10.
- Act of Reparation for Blasphemies Uttered Against the Holy Name, Righting Wrongs Through Prayer By Scott P. Richert, About.com
- * Dorothy Scallan. The Holy Man of Tours. (1990) ISBN 0-89555-390-2
- Joseph P. Christopher et al., 2003 The Raccolta, St Athanasius Press ISBN 978-0-9706526-6-9
- Letter for 50th anniversary of the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face, 2000 Vatican archives
- "Thomas Aikenhead". 5.uua.org. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Saeed, Abdullah; Hassan Saeed (2004). Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam. Burlington VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-7546-3083-8.
- Islamic scholar attacks Pakistan's blasphemy laws Guardian 20 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010
- "Islamic Voice". Islamic Voice. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "Blasphemy Salman Rushdie". Constitutional Rights Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
- U.N. Resolutions:
- Recanati, F. (1995) The alleged priority of literal interpretation. Cognitive Science 19: 207–32.
- Carston, R. (1997) Enrichment and loosening: complementary processes in deriving the proposition expressed? Linguistische Berichte 8: 103–127.
- Carston, R. (2000). Explicature and semantics. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12: 1–44. Revised version to appear in Davis & Gillon (forthcoming).
- Sperber, D. & D. Wilson (1998) The mapping between the mental and the public lexicon. In Carruthers & Boucher (1998: 184–200).
- Glucksberg, S. (2001) Understanding Figurative Language: From Metaphors to Idioms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Wilson, D. & D. Sperber (2002) Truthfulness and relevance. Mind 111: 583–632.
- PDF (87K) UCL Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics. Retrieved 24 October 2011
Further reading 
- Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression (ISSN US 0363-3659)
- Levy, L. Blasphemy. Chapel Hill, 1993.
- Comprehensive academic study comparing global legal approaches to blasphemy in light of the Jyllands-Posten controversy
- Dartevelle, P., S Borg, Denis, Ph., Robyn, J. (eds.). Blasphèmes et libertés. Paris: CERF, 1993
- Plate, S. Brent Blasphemy: Art that Offends (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2006) [ISBN 1904772536]
- The Rational Response Squad: The Blasphemy Challenge
- A More4 news film report on how insulting the prophet Mohammed in Pakistan is a capital offence, and defiling the Koran carries life imprisonment.
- review of laws relating to blasphemy and sacrilege in various jurisdictions
- John Webster Melody (1913). "Blasphemy". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Jewish Encyclopedia – Blasphemy
- "Blasphemy". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.