The Christian think tank Ekklesia has renewed its call for the repeal of the UK's archaic blasphemy law, in the wake of an attempt by an individual to seek judicial review in the High Court of a Magistrates Court's refusal of a private prosecution against the BBC for broadcasting 'Jerry Springer - The Opera'.
Blasphemous libel claims can still be brought against the publication of any matter that insults, offends, or vilifies Christ or the Christian (principally Anglican) religion - whether the publication intended to be blasphemous or not.
"Human rights advocates, including people of faith, have quite rightly campaigned against blasphemy laws in Pakistan and other countries, and having one on the statute in the UK is both an offence and an anachronism", says Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow.
He adds: "Privileging one religion above other views is indefensible in a democracy, and for Christians there is the added irony that Christ was himself arraigned on a charge of blasphemy. Using the law to attack opinions about belief is to misuse it, and suggesting that God needs protection against free speech makes no theological sense at all."
"The Christian message is about the power of self- giving love, not the love of one's own power. This is why it is wrong religiously as well as legally and democratically", says Barrow.
Ekklesia also shares the view of Liberty that the offence of blasphemy violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights protecting free speech. It should also be decriminalised in English law because of its lack of legal certainty, as the Irish Supreme Court in Corway versus Independent Newspapers held in 2000, says the civil rights group.