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Debate: Laws against religious defamation

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Are laws against religious defamation justified?

Background and context

Religious defamation, or blasphemy, is the use of the name of one or more gods, in a manner which is considered objectionable by a religious authority. It may include using sacred names as stress expletives without intention to pray or speak of sacred matters; it is also sometimes defined as language expressing disapproved beliefs, or disbelief. In some countries, these restrictions have the force of law.

"Blasphemy" may be used by extension to describe any display of gross irreverence towards any person or thing deemed worthy of exalted esteem. In this broader sense the term is used by Sir Francis Bacon in the Advancement of Learning, when he speaks of "blasphemy against teaching".

Sometimes the word "blasphemy" is used loosely to mean any profane language, for example in "With much hammering and blasphemy, the locomotive's replacement spring was finally fitted.".

"The meaning of freedom". Economist. April 2nd, 2009

See Wikipedia's article on Blasphemy for more background.

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