Just picked this up over e-mail. If you actually notice an increase in the already high level of blasphemy all around, well, now you’ll know why: it’s blasphemy day! I’d like to suggest that the organizers of this event arrange to celebrate it in a Muslim nation in the Middle East and they shall soon gain a greater appreciation for their rights in the USA, if they live to tell of it.
Amherst, New York (Sept. 25, 2009)–The Center for Inquiry will draw attention in several major cities across the continent this Wednesday with its robust participation in International Blasphemy Day. Events are scheduled for Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., Austin, Tucson, Tampa Bay, and Amherst, N.Y.Sept. 30 is the anniversary of the original 2005 publication of the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. The fury which arose within the Islamic community following this publication led to massive riots, attacks on foreign embassies and deaths. Four of the cartoons were reprinted in Free Inquiry magazine in support of the public’s right to free expression and criticism.
Participation in Blasphemy Day is part of the Center for Inquiry’s larger Campaign for Free Expression, an effort to focus attention on one of the most crucial components of freethought: the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs about all subjects–especially religion. “Placing religion off limits in social discourse is just another, gentler way of prohibiting examination and criticism of religion,” CFI President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay said. “In my view, all subjects of human interest should be open to examination and criticism by humans.”
Other elements of the Campaign for Free Expression include:
- A Blasphemy contest to create a phrase, poem, or statement that considered blasphemous–deadline Oct. 1.
- A Free Expression essay contest open to all students currently enrolled in accredited colleges and universities, with the winner receiving a $2,000 award–deadline, Jan. 5, 2010.
- A cartoon contest, judged by professional cartoonists, in which the theme will be the doctrines of humanity’s many and various religions (CFI aims to be as ecumenical as possible)–deadline to be announced.
- The launching of a new Web site, Please Block Us, featuring reports on recent censorship attempts and controversies as well as original material that would be suppressed under the laws of some countries. It’s an open invitation to oppressive governments to block its material from their citizens’ access, thus highlighting their opposition to free expression. Offending nations’ names will be listed on the site.
- Public discussions and writings devoted to the contemporary champions of free expression.
- A petition drive urging relevant United Nations bodies not to limit speech critical of religion.
- Special events with prominent guest speakers; and much more.
The motivation behind Blasphemy Day is not simply to come up with ways to offend the religious. It’s meant to call attention to human rights–especially the right to free expression and the right to openly criticize unreasonably shielded ideas.
The Center for Inquiry/Transnational, a nonprofit, educational, advocacy, and scientific-research think tank based in Amherst, New York, is also home to the Council for Secular Humanism, founded in 1980; and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP), founded in 1976. The Center for Inquiry’s research and educational projects focus on three broad areas: religion, ethics, and society; paranormal and fringe-science claims; and sound public policy. The Center’s Web site is www.centerforinquiry.net .