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Irish Church leaders support removal of blasphemy law

Catholic World News - November 04, 2013

Christian leaders in Ireland have endorsed a proposal to a reference to remove the crime of blasphemy from the country’s constitution.

The Irish Council of Churches and the Irish Inter-Church Meeting joined in a statement saying that “the current reference to blasphemy in the Constitution of Ireland is largely obsolete and may give rise to concern because of the way such measures have been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world.”

The Christian leaders indicated in their statement that religious communities should be able to join in public debates “without being subjected to attack or ridicule.” But that right could be protected by “legislation against discrimination and hate crimes,” they argued. The groups pointed out that blasphemy laws have been used in other countries to oppress religious minorities; their statement concluded with a vow of solidarity with those suffering under such oppression.

The Irish Council of Churches incorporates most of Ireland’s Protestant and Orthodox bodies; in the Inter-Church meeting, the group joins with representatives of the Irish Catholic bishops’ conference.

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