Today marks the four year anniversary of the cartoon controversy in Denmark, when the newspaper published political cartoons bearing the face of Mohammed (any image of Mohammed is an act of blasphemy in Islam). Those cartoons sparked an international protest from the Muslim community. Now, four years later, the Center for Inquiry has declared September 30 as the First Annual International Blasphemy Day.
The Blasphemy Day events are part of this group’s larger Campaign for Free Expression, which encompasses more than protection of speech about religion. CFI aims to expose all religious beliefs to the same level of inquiry, discussion and criticism to which other areas of intellectual interest are subjected. To encourage free expression, CFI is holding a blasphemy contest. According to their website,
To enter, all you have to do is create a phrase, poem, or statement that would be or would have been considered blasphemous. Entries may take any form (haiku anyone?), but must be 20 words or less. The top 5 winners will receive CFI t-shirts with their submission printed on the shirt. In addition to the shirt, the first place winner will also receive a mug imprinted with the winning phrase, recognition in Free Inquiry magazine, general publicity, and, naturally, eternal damnation.
As part of Blasphemy Day, artist Dana Ellyn, presented this work of art entitled, “Jesus Does His Nails.”
And another work entitled, “Silly Rabbit, Myths are For Kids”
If you want to read a well written Christian response to Blasphemy Day, I would point you towards Dr. Mohler’s article from last week.
How should we react to International Blasphemy Day? Perhaps like the Christians in Acts 4. When Peter and John were arrested for preaching the gospel in the Temple, they were released after being told to stop preaching the name of Jesus.
After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. 23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4.21-30)
Getting angry at lost people for thinking like lost people probably doesn’t further the gospel very much. The nations rage and the peoples plot because they reject the gospel of Jesus. In light of their blasphemy, we should follow in the steps of Jesus. He did not feel the need to defend His honor when He was mocked by the soldiers. The resurrection took care of that.
Jesus told us, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5.11-12).
Let the nations rage and let the people plot in vain, and let us speak with boldness and clarity the good news of the gospel.