Yesterday in the House of Commons the Government seemed convinced that the blasphemy laws were unenforced and unenforceable. This may be true; but this very fact encapsulates an ‘inconvenient truth’. For over two hundred years people in this country have freely criticised Christianity. In recent years people have with impunity abused and ridiculed it, even poking fun at Christ.
Yet since the Salman Rushdie and Danish cartoons affairs, none in the media dares criticise Islam. Certainly no one insults or pokes fun at the Prophet. I agree that shouldn’t be done. It is loutish bad manners. But some commentators think it cool to mock Christianity, and no one bats an eyelid.
The reason for this self-censorship of commentary on Islam is not always genuine respect and good behaviour, but often fear of being targeted. There is therefore a mismatch in debate about ‘faith’ on this.
Before the Government abolish the last symbolic – and it is purely symbolic – protection of the Established Christian Church (because the blasphemy laws only protect the Anglican Church), they need to address this problem.
It’s a pity that it needs a Roman Catholic to point this out, and that the Established Church has so few ardent supporters in Parliament.