A Comment on Charlie Hebdo

Let’s start with an uncontroversial claim: Charlie Hebdo (CH) is a low-class, often thoughtless, publication which any decent society should have shut down a long time ago. The failure of French society, now long broken away from its Catholic roots, to suppress the paper does not in any way, shape, or form take away from the tragedy of Muslim terrorists murdering ten CH employees and three police officers, along with the wounding many others. Hopefully the perpetrators will be apprehended, though some are skeptical on that point. Catholics are rightly mourning and praying for the victims and their families, and Pope Francis, in his care for the salvation of souls, has set the example of praying for the terrorists as well so “that the Lord might change their hearts.” The Lord invoked here is not Allah, but the one God in Three Persons, the Most Holy Trinity whose revelation at the Son of God’s Baptism in the Jordan was so beautifully celebrated yesterday by a number of Eastern Christians. Allah, as any faithful Muslim will tell you, had no son. That makes sense, for Allah is no god.

I raise what was once an uncontested point among Catholics in order to remind some of my brothers and sisters in Christ that there was nothing inherently blasphemous in CH’s various negative depictions of “the Prophet” Muhammad or the Islamic religion. If CH deserves to be shut down (and it does), it is because of its numerous acts of blasphemy against God and His Holy Church. Of course, there may be other good reasons to curtail CH’s falsely sacrosanct right to “free expression.” Public order, especially in a country with the largest Muslim population in Europe, might call for putting a clamp on inflammatory speech, especially when such speech is devoid of artistic and/or intellectual merit. (Determining merit, I admit, is sometimes a fraught task, though not, as American courts of law would have it, impossible.) However, that responsibility fell to French officials and they failed. CH, for its part, was simply “playing by the rules” of a secular-liberal society, and not a single cartoon or story it ran in any way, shape, or form justifies yesterday’s appalling violence.

That hasn’t stopped some from trying, or at least coming up to the line of victim blaming. Matthew Schmitz, writing over at the First Things web-log, observes a couple of instances of this happening online. Shame on them. Shame on Schmitz, too, for suggesting that “[o]ur principles will be tested in defense of unsympathetic victims” if by “our principles” he means “Catholic principles.” For there is no principle, that is to say there is no right, to commit blasphemy, which is exactly what CH did in those instances when it tastelessly mocked Christianity. “Our principles,” that is to say, “Catholic principles” do not uphold the right of CH or any other publication to print whatever it feels like, either. Defending the “unsympathetic victims” of the CH attack is defending their right to not have their lives arbitrarily taken away by murderers in service to a false religion, not their “right” to “free speech.” On the other hand, perhaps Schmitz takes “our principles” to mean American secular-liberal principles; in that case his statement makes more sense, though it is not unproblematic. More thought surely should be put to whether such “principles” warrant any favor from Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.


  1. For the most part, I am not sympathetic to the majority of opinions that you voice here in this post. You can choose not to care, but you need, of course, to make that choice — either deliberately, as a matter of considered judgment, or else habitually, by virtue of a habit steamrolling over my opinion before you have deliberated.

    “The Lord invoked here is not Allah, but the one God in Three Persons, the Most Holy Trinity whose revelation at the Son of God’s Baptism in the Jordan was so beautifully celebrated yesterday by a number of Eastern Christians. Allah, as any faithful Muslim will tell you, had no son. That makes sense, for Allah is no god.”

    That surprised me. This is not the position of St. John of Damascus, or any of the other fathers that I know of who speak on this point. It is, further, not a terribly rational position to take. Regardless of narrative accretions, or the philosophical voluntarism and nominalism, etc., that have been decided upon in many Muslim quarters (as, unfortunately, in many Christian quarters), when a Muslim says “Allah” he or she intends something that is not so wholly different from when an English-speaking Christian or Jew says “God” (or “Hashem”), so that discourse and argument is not only possible, but actually occurs. Of course, at a lay level, it will often devolve into petty animosity towards witnesses or miracles claims (or the advancement of miracle claims as though they establish a position); I am not talking about this level. Learned adherents on both sides can actually talk about where the disagreements are, just as Pagan Neoplatonists and Neoplatonic Christians could articulate their mutual disagreements. Critique is possible because of what is held in common, or else there is no discourse possible, only rhetoric or war.

    If you say, “Allah is no god”, I worry that it’s at the level of, “we believe in Green Lantern, and you believe in Spiderman, and the DC universe is the only real comic book universe we have.” I know you know better than to make this a war between narratives, which devolves into a war between fictions.

    Further, after denying that CH’s treatment of Muhammad counts as blasphemy, you assert that “If CH deserves to be shut down (and it does), it is because of its numerous acts of blasphemy against God and His Holy Church.”

    That just seemed like special pleading. Of course, if you are only interested in preaching to the choir, then you’re free to take for granted certain assumptions, but then you don’t have justification for advancing your favored institution’s exclusive privilege within a public space, or enjoining it upon your readership, as this will only be taken –understandably– as an expression of militant and invulnerable bias by those who do not share your institutional affiliations.

    I know you are smarter than this, so I’m hoping you’ll point out that I’m mistaken at some fundamental level, either about what you were actually saying in this post, or else about the issues that are in play.

    1. Gregory,

      I do not, on any level, understand what you are driving at here. The opinions of individual Fathers of the Church is not dispositive. Catholics do not worship Allah; Allah is not God. That’s it. Plain and simple. I have no idea where you would draw such a conclusion from, though maybe there are Orthodox out there who share in that view. But I’m not Orthodox, so it matters not to me.

      It is not special pleading to hold that blasphemy, which can only be directed against the true God and the true religion, should be legally prohibited in a decent society. Blasphemy against Islam, or any other false religion, is impossible.

      You betray the relativism of your outlook with the term “favored institution.” This isn’t about preferring one flavor of ice cream over another; it is about the truth. If I did not believe that God and His only Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church were true, then I could, I suppose, buy into what seems to me to be your religious indifferentism or borderline relativism.

      But I am assuming this is not what you mean to say. You’re smarter than that, so I must be misunderstanding you.

      1. If you don’t understand what I’m driving at, then I’ve done a terrible job explaining myself, and my reticence, or perhaps we really do disagree at some fundamental level.

        Let me try to better set out the issues that concern me.
        1) “Allah is not God. That’s it. Plain and simple.”
        If a Catholic were to argue with a Muslim about God, the argument would either not be a conversation –such would likely be a set of assertions, denials, and counter-assertions– or else it would be a conversation, in which case it would proceed on the basis of what is common. This is what St. Anselm was trying to do when he articulated his theory of why Christ was necessary (a sin against an infinite God, he argued, would be infinite not by virtue of the sin, but by virtue of the one who it was directed against — so Anselm’s argument roughly goes); so too with St. John of Damascus; so too with Timothy of Baghdad in his apology to the Caliph Mahdi. They do not begin with the assertion of authority or the denial of it to alternative accounts; they begin with common principles, and attempt to demonstrate their point accordingly, so that they can show its reasonableness and command assent. Implicitly, any position that cannot do this, or something that has the similar feature of being universal and so obligatory, cannot command assent. Muslims can talk about God with Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. There is something public about it. To suggest, as you seem to be doing, that they are simply addressing their prayers to a fiction — it undermines the fact of discourse that has preceded you, me, and both the currently living Muslim and Christian communities. This clearly implies that, since Muslims and Christians can talk about God without constantly falling back on asserting the authority of the texts that anchor their communities, respectively, that they both do, in fact, have the same “object” of concern (of course, God is not an object, not a being), even if they have some pretty substantial disagreements about God. This is my principal complaint, I think, with how you are arguing here.

        2) In a society that does not formally recognize any one religion, blasphemy laws are really against religion, not God, no? I admit that I’m on your turf here, so I look forward to your instructive reply, but my understanding is that individuals (and more recently, corporations) are the only agents recognized as persons to whom rights accrue in the modern world. How would applying blasphemy laws to any institution in the modern world not smack of aggression towards other institutions which are _not_ favored? It is not clear how the privileged status of any one religion might be advanced once it is relinquished. (Parenthetical marks for a note that is not really part of my argument, but peripherally related to it: it is also not clear to me why this privilege would be desired by the Catholic Church. Catholicism has so much to commend it, I don’t know why it would ever need or desire this privilege. Such privilege was not present at its inception, nor does Catholicism need such a thing to breathe or carry out its ministries. As a matter of fact, the simple truth is that all institutions are interested in perpetuating themselves, and all institutions with privilege are interested in maintaining that privilege. No one faults the Catholic Church for wishing to do the things necessary to secure her future, but it is not difficult to argue that pursuing, maintaining, and defending privilege distracts her from what she’s supposed to do: feeding, serving, educating, and announcing the evangel of the resurrection of Christ.)

        3) “Favored institution” was a descriptive phrase, as I used it, to force the language into more public terms that would require individuals who share a public space with others who do _not_ share those institutional affiliations to articulate and defend any such desired privilege in terms that are public. Otherwise, it will at least be felt as coercion, and likely will be. Sometimes coercion is justifiable, as any decent parent knows; it is not self-evident, prior to argument, that this is such a case. God does not need political sanctions. The remarkable work of the Church with regard to the poor and the fatherless (among others), in her teaching and preserving the classical tradition, and in celebrating the Eucharist are what commend her, are the site of God’s warring against all that enslaves humanity; this commends the Church. It is persuasive because it is beautiful. The divinity of Christ is evident not because someone _says_ it or because it is legally binding on citizens or that citizens are proscribed from publicly saying otherwise or mocking said position, but because in Christ we find the truth of our faces in his face, and the truth of our lives set forth in his. In the biblical text, the temple was instituted by God, but it was accused of being corrupt through the economic and political aspirations of its stewards. Similarly, the libido dominandi, unleashed in the Church, does not make the face of Christ to shine forth, and may very well result in a similar judgment against all quarters of that institution which are complicit in this non-messianic project of privilege. I do not believe that any of this can reasonably be accused of being “relativistic” in character, regardless of how inclusive it is.

        1. Gregory,

          There is a lot here, and I am pressed for time. Still, I think it’s important to make a few observations on your remarks.

          First, to hold, consistent with Catholic orthodoxy, that Allah is not God and that we do not worship the false deity of the Muslims does not discount the possibility of engaging with Muslims on the basis of what you called shared principles, or what we might call right reason. At the natural level, it is possible for Christians to dialogue with Muslims in order to convince them of their errors and win them to the Catholic Faith; however, that means starting with natural theology, not accepting the false theology of the Muslims as in any sense true or acknowledging the “revelatory truth” of the Islamic religion.

          Second, I was not referring to any extant positive laws. To the best of my knowledge France has no blasphemy laws. When I speak of blasphemy, I am using it as it is found in Divine Law which, to use Suarez’s definition, is “any word of malediction, reproach, or contumely pronounced against God.” Since the civil law should conform to divine law, yes, true blasphemy against the true religion should be proscribed. As for “neutral” blasphemy laws which proscribe any words of malediction, reproach, or contumely against any religion and its honored deity (or deities), I cannot, in good conscience, support them since they would inevitably curtail the right of Christians to speak out against and condemn false religions. Instead of honoring the rights of God, such laws would undermine the rights of the Church which itself is a grave matter.

          Third, while I don’t have time to go into it here, the views you have espoused appear to me to be in conflict with the social teaching of the Church, particular as it is found in the encyclicals of Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Pius XI. However, it is, and remains, a complex issue — one which The Josias recently addressed.

          1. What does it mean to call God as Muslim understand him a “false deity”? Is that different from saying that they have many misconceptions about the God Who is?

            1. I agree, that’s why I ask what “false deity” means. Did late 19th century physicists believe in false electrons because they didn’t know about wave functions, or did they have false conceptions about the electrons that are? Seems analagous to me. All the study and conversation I’ve done with Islam leads me to believe we’re talking about the same transcendent Being and just have different beliefs about Him. Natural theology kind of necessitates that – they use the same proofs of God and His Nature. They just diverge on historical divine revelation.

            2. I would write “many misconceptions” of a Christian heretic, even ones which seem to have stepped outside of the Christian circle (e.g., Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists). For Islam, from likely its inception and certainly in its theological explication, there is such a fundamental removal from the correct, that is Catholic Christian (though the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox are within this circle, too) understanding of God, that we are no longer speaking of the same deity. However, that fact does not remove the possibility that a Muslim can, through the exercise of right reason, know God naturally and, one prays, come to know Him through faith. That faith, however, is the Christian faith, not the Muslim.

            3. Modestinus, you are making an unconvincing –and, might I say, rather indirect– case for the separation of philosophical theology from religious narrative, and placing an enormous amount of weight on the latter.

              The latter is understood through the former, however; the latter may be transporting and transforming without being understood, but narrative must be translated into more universal and fundamental language to be understood.

              When one says “God” and intends a conceptual object as the content of divinity, denying that the intentional object that someone else has when they say “God” is also divinity, isn’t such a one a psychological polytheist, and likely an idolater? I grant the divinity of Christ, of course, and there are good public reasons for holding to Trinitarian theology, but this doesn’t mean that God is an object of thought, doesn’t mean that he has shape, form, being — all the things that an over-reliance on narrative heaps up uncritically. Theology proper must deal with narratives, because if left to themselves, they leave God with a shape, and that means God is explained by something other than God. God determines all things, yet is himself undetermined by anything. This is where the Catholic tradition of philosophical theology, of the _analogia entis_ comes from, as far as I understand it, and it’s a legitimate concern to have.

              It also undermines your psychologistic polytheism, which has rhetorical weight in separating narratives and communities, but leads to some really silly (and un-Catholic) theological implications.

            4. It leads to nothing of the sort. Your theological liberalism, informed as it is by secular predispositions which have nothing to do with your own confession’s commitments, leads you down the rabbit hole of holding that basically all religions have “some truth value” to them, and the question is just clarifying some points of disagreement and resolving differences on the margins.

              All of your other implications are due to either over-reading a few simple statements, turning my refusal to play armchair hyper-ecumenist into views which I clearly do not hold, or a self-generated fiction. Either way, I am not going to play the game of defending that which I do not believe.

  2. The gods of the heathens are devils. Allah, while Muslims ascribe to him the infinite perfections of God, is nothing more than an antient Arabian moon deity – hence the crescent symbol of Islam.
    In short, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same god.

  3. I agree that Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God. Allah can be used in place of God, and is simply the Classical Arabic word for God based on understanding of Aramaic. Islam however does have a heretical view of God, and in the early days was considered a Christian heresy, not necessarily a separate religion as it is thought today as. Islam did not start off with a crescent symbol, it was a green flag. The crescent moon symbol came from the Ottoman Turks conquering Constantinople in the 1400’s.

  4. Dear Mod,

    Thank you for your thoughtful posting on this passionate issue.

    Nonetheless, I shall have to beg to differ with you on several topics within your posting. One is your assertion that Christians do not worship Allah. Most Arab Christians, from the Melkite Eastern Catholic Church at which I worship, to Antiochian Orthodox, to Coptic Monophysites, use the word “Allah” in their liturgical and their worship in referring to what we call “God”. I will agree with you, however, that while the name remains the same, Christians do not have the same concept of God or Allah that Muslims seem to have: a unitarian, irrational, and merciless being that savours more of Cthulhu than of Christ.

    Having read the review that the webzine Vox has done of Charlie Hebdo, I would have to agree with you that Charlie had been a rather naughty magazine, and was guilty of blasphemy against both Christianity and Islam. As to whether Catholics should work toward a state in France or elsewhere in which such blasphemy can be sanctioned or suppressed, I must point out that the probabilities of that ever happening are obese. In other words, fat chance.

    I would think, however, that you would be wise to address your considerable legal skills and abilities to the conflict between a secular society and elements within it who adhere to the beliefs that it is proper to assassinate those who satirize Islam (a belief that goes all the way back to the Koran and the Hadiths,when Muhammad (pox be upon him) and his followers slew poets who criticized or satirized him), and the belief that his followers may take direct action (aka jihad) in order to kill or silence those who criticize Muhammad or Islam.

    1. Bernard,

      I only have a moment to respond, but how a Melkite or Antiochian Orthodox Christian uses “Allah” and how a Muslim uses it are radically divergent. The former use it to point to the one true God; the latter does not.

      1. I would agree with the last sentence of your reply; but then, that is what I said in my original comment.

        I look forward to a reply to my other points, however, when you have the time for such a reply.

    2. Bernard,

      As to your first point, the restoration of a Catholic state in France or anywhere else in the world, I wonder what St. George would have said had someone intimidated to him that within a century of his martyrdom, the Church would be free under the Roman Empire and, barring some hiccups, the dominant religion of the empire. Not a single Apostle, I suspect, could have conceived of Christendom, and I imagine, not too many decades ago, few ever suspected the resurrection of the longsuferring Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Please don’t find me flippant for saying this, but there are no “fat chances” with God.

      As to your second point, it’s a topic worth exploring, though I am not sure I can do so adequately right now. However, even a secular state, if it is a state at all, has not just the right, but the duty, to maintain public order. The coercion of public expressions of false religion which has as its aim the disruption of public order, up to and including inflicting violent death on the citizenry, is certainly justified.

  5. In the course of making a welcome and needed point, you read more into my purely general aphorism about the testing of principles than was there. I neither suggested that I was talking about a single principle, that it was one of free speech, nor that such a principle could be considered Catholic. The notion that there is an unfettered right to “expression,” including a right to blaspheme, strikes me as impossibly confused and necessarily offensive to Catholic faith (liberal Catholics might permit themselves to recognize this point by acknowledging that such a notion even lacks basis in the U.S. Constitution). I disagree only with your misreading of me–the rest I approve.

  6. At some point after you’ve launched enough of these zingers to sufficiently épater la ibéraux, you need to actually put your damn chips on the table and advocate for a specific political system, position, platform, whatever. At this point, I’m left assuming your best case realistic scenario is Hypothetical Catholic Putin running Franco’s Spain.

    1. Do I? Maybe I am leaving that work to more gifted fellows. I can outline some great arguments for certain cases which have gone before the European Court of Justice, but I’d get lost on my way to Luxembourg.

      The reason I don’t advocate for any particular political system is because there is no “one-size-fits-all” system which ought to be implemented for all peoples at all times and in all places.

  7. You think there was nothing blasphemous in CH’s negative depictions of “the Prophet” Muhammad or the Islamic religion, but it is blasphemous because of its blasphemy against God and His Holy Church.
    That’s totally hypocritical, and totally expected from the Catholic Church.

    1. It’s not blasphemy when someone writes in graffiti. “Zeus is dumb” or “Thor sucks,” too.

      1. I think we feel that way because we recognize that those are dead religions. Blasphemy laws really should be done away with. The CH’s of the world will never go away –it’s a 9-year-old form of humor– but we should be raising citizens such that they have enough virtue to know to avoid this tasteless stuff.

        1. I don’t read French and I have not read CH, but I disagree that it is a 9-year old’s form of humor. This particular magazine may or may not be skilled at satire, but that is beyond the point. Satire has been always been used to bring attention to the absurdities of facets of the human situation. We should be raising citizens who can view and respond civilly to criticism of their ideas and beliefs without resorting to violence. If the criticism is banal and infantile, then it can be easily ignored…but the criticism must still be allowed. If the criticism is viable and based in observable reality, then it should be engaged in a respectful and constructive manner–ideally. If your ideas cannot stand scrutiny, then how strong can they be?

          1. I agree heartily with everything you write about everything, except your opinions about whether CH is a 9-year-old form of humor. On that matter, I prefer my ignorance and carefully-sifted second-hand opinions to yours. :-D

            1. Very well.
              Again, CH may or may not be skillful at satire, but, and I think you’ll agree, I would much rather live in a world where people can freely be infantile satirists without fear of being murdered than in a world where people with certain religious beliefs can dictate to all others what opinions and ideas are permissible to express upon fear of punishment.

        2. Then why aren’t we raising such citizens? By starting with liberal presuppositions you wind up with liberal conclusions. I think that is easier to deal with as an Orthodox Christian because, outside of the context of the Empire (second or third Rome), your political horizon has to be imported from the status quo. In this instance I am speaking about what is right; I am quite well aware how far removed we, in the West, are from that today.

          1. I admit that my own positions vis-a-vis modern political options are rather roughly hewn at the moment — I’m a Platonic-Liberal-Communitarian Frankenstein.

            I’d love to know why we aren’t raising such citizens. A major aspect of this is that we have lost a language to talk about value outside of preferential terms, and this is both symptom and cause. It’s not true, of course. Until we can find a common language, we’ll be where we are. Officially, this is what I study in school (I’m fine at most parties until I start talking shop).

            I’d love for you to spell out what you mean by Orthodoxy importing political horizons. Sounds fascinating, but I don’t follow.

  8. It seems to me that any “blasphemy” laws being proposed, be they against insulting Muslims or Catholics, are designed to protect the rather thin-skinned sensibilities of the followers of those belief systems, rather than any god, be it Allah or Jehovah. If there were such a god, I think she or he could handle human beings using satire in a magazine, regardless of its artistic or cultural merits.

    1. That’s one way to see it. The other way is that such laws are in the service of truth. The West still has such rules, in fact. Some can be found in our anti-defamation jurisprudence.

        1. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Mod’s arguments here, but don’;t you think the armchair psychoanalysis (“you…who cannot handle criticism”) is just un peu de trop? It’s cheap personal insult, not argument.

          1. Was he insulting Mod? I didn’t read that; I certainly wasn’t intending to. I thought we were talking generally about the widespread motives for such laws that give them traction, and the way that these laws affect relations between groups.

            1. Well, actually, BMUS, that does look kinda overly-sharp. You can pack a punch and be respectful at the same time. Mod isn’t delicate: he can take a punch. If Mod is wrong about the need for blasphemy laws to be applied, and to be exclusively beholden to either traditional Christianity generally, or Catholic Christianity more specifically (if that’s what he’s saying, and I would disagree with him if he is saying that), I suspect it’s most like bad math in his case, if anything — it most certainly is not indicative of a fragile commitment or a raw-nerve mind.

            2. Well, this is my first time reading this blog. Yes, I did find this through “The Friendly Atheist”, although I don’t know why you use “sic” in your subsequent post, other than to take a cheap shot at him. I did mean you, but in the sense that you are advocating for blasphemy laws, which are absolutely beyond ridiculous in my view. They do not protect any gods, but only the followers. I would again ask how the laws serve the truth, but from what I have read from you today, there is, in your view, only one truth and that is Catholicism. So I’ll ask this: why does your god and religion need the protection of these laws?

            3. I find it amusing that when a blog does a sloppy hack job on a post I wrote and then attempts to insult me (though I don’t actually feel insulted), I’m the one taking a “cheap shot” for suggesting that maybe he’s not so “friendly” after all. Wonders never cease.

              And of course I believe that Catholicism is, to put it in your terms, “the only truth.” If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be Catholic. (Before someone jumps down my throat, I do, of course, acknowledge fully that truth can be found outside of the Catholic Church through human reason and the (imperfect) acceptance of Christian revelation.)

              Legally proscribing blasphemy would be prudent to the extent that it upholds the common good, which includes the individual good of each man. Since blasphemy is a sin against God and an individual, by committing such an act, imperils his very soul, legally proscribing blasphemy can be seen as a means of keeping people “on the straight and narrow,” so to speak. Moreover, openly allowing blasphemy may have the ill effect of leading people astray from the true religion, particularly those with less rigorous mental and emotional constitutions. Their interests, too, ought to be taken into account.

            4. I didn’t write the post, so you can take that up with Mr. Mehta. I’m saying you are taking a cheap shot because you are using “sic” incorrectly. It is to be used to point out an error in grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc… It is not to be used to insert a personal opinion of the author into the quotation such as you have done to indicate that you believe him to be unfriendly–thus a cheap shot. Again, I’ll leave that to you two.
              You didn’t really answer my question, either. How do blasphemy laws protect your god and/or religion? Actually, I understand how they protect religion: by shielding them from criticism which they then do not have to answer to. I still don’t understand how they protect your god.
              And who is to decide what is the “common good”? In my view, eliminating religion altogether through people choosing to leave it voluntarily with reason and logic, not through coercion of the law, would be for the common good. Doesn’t your religion have enough strength in its arguments to refute any “blasphemy” and keep people on the “straight and narrow”? It seems like you want blasphemy laws as a crutch to help your religion artificially propped up.

            5. I am not sure I, or anyone, advanced the claim that laws proscribing blasphemy “protect God.” In fact, I offered a theory of why blasphemy laws are appropriate which had nothing to do with achieving that goal. After all, blasphemy can be uttered in private, where civil authorities have no reach. A public declaration of blasphemy, such as the sort CH engaged in, is what is at issue here.

    2. Blasphemy laws (and laws against sodomy and witchcraft) were first overturned by the French Revolutionaries. Were the men of France “thin-skinned” and incapable of religious criticism before that time?

  9. My personal opinion of Catholicism is the same one I hold for all religions: they are silly, pompous, fraudulent, anachronistic superstitions. But even if that were not the case for any given religion, no religion has any standing to believe itself inviolable to criticism or derision. Same holds for rational skepticism.

  10. Hi, you wrote:

    ““that the Lord might change their hearts.” The Lord invoked here is not Allah, but the one God in Three Persons, the Most Holy Trinity whose revelation at the Son of God’s Baptism in the Jordan was so beautifully celebrated yesterday by a number of Eastern Christians. Allah, as any faithful Muslim will tell you, had no son. That makes sense, for Allah is no god.”

    This seems to contradict the statement in Nostra Aetate on the Creator the Jews and the Musilm worship as well. Jews will also tell us YHWH has no son, by the same line of reasoning YHWH is also no god? But that’s not what Jesus and the Church taught.
    You quote Pope Francis as if he shares your distinction between the True God and the false god, but if so why did he organize and host an interfaith prayer where people pray is if they address the same God?

    1. Nostra Aetate‘s doctrinal significance is, to put it lightly, contestable. As one priest I know put it, the Catholic Church is protected when speaking on faith and morals; there is nothing to protect her from spewing raw nonsense when it comes to other religions.

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