This bill was designed to protect Christianity from criticism, but it is of interest here because other than this, only Muslims are pushing for such laws around the world. And this story neatly encapsulates what is wrong with such bills with a clarity and efficiency that mainstream media sources never bring to the discussion of proposals to criminalize “incitement to religious hatred,” which the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been trying to get the West to do for years.
“The proposal to set fines for religiously insulting words and behavior was criticized for its potential to make the Georgian Orthodox Church, seen by many as the embodiment of Georgia’s national identity, all but immune to criticism.” Yes, just as religious hatred bills would make Islam immune from criticism, including regarding jihad terror.
Also: “Who can define religious feelings? What judge can rule on whether a certain action is insulting to someone’s religion?” Exactly. Muslim clerics have often characterized blasphemy laws and “religious hatred” laws as necessary to protect Muslims from “hurt feelings.” Grow up, already. Hurt feelings are as subjective as “hate speech,” and can become just as much a tool of tyrants.
Georgia has dropped a proposed anti-blasphemy bill ardently opposed by freedom-of-speech activists. With a stated goal of protecting the feelings of Christian believers, the bill pitted civil liberties against faith in this passionately Christian nation.
The draft appeared to be causing a split in the ruling Georgian Dream coalition – never desirable in a parliamentary election year. Saying that the bill needs more work,parliamentarian Soso Jachvliani on February 15 withdrew his own proposal, which already had been conditionally approved by parliament’s human rights committee. Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili announced that the legislature has stopped discussion of the legislation.
The proposal to set fines for religiously insulting words and behavior was criticized for its potential to make the Georgian Orthodox Church, seen by many as the embodiment of Georgia’s national identity, all but immune to criticism. The Church earlier had asked for legal defenses against insults, but now distanced itself from the bill. The Patriarchy, the holy see of the Georgian Orthodox Church, is known for thin-skinned reactions to criticism and to any sort of irreverent take on Christian beliefs.
Some liberal clerics, however, spoke against the bill. One Georgian Orthodox priest in Germany described it as absurd. “Who can define religious feelings? What judge can rule on whether a certain action is insulting to someone’s religion?” Deacon Tamaz Lomidze asked in a recent sermon, PalitraTV reported.
A bishop from Georgia’s minority Evangelical-Baptist Church said that even Jesus Christ would get fined under such a law. “Jesus was doing lots of provocative things, spoke to women…the Holy Scripture is full of actions that would entail 300-lari penalties,” Rusudan Gotsirdize said in an interview for a Rustavi2 news-show….