If in fact they are against restricting anything that might be considered offensive, wherever, then they must all be fine with religion wherever, whenever…even if it's offensive to some. Right?
By Leanne Larmondin, Religion News Service
TORONTO — You've never seen Jesus like this before: dripping red nail polish around the nails in his feet and hands, an irreverent riff on the crucifixion wounds. The provocative title of the painting: "Jesus Does His Nails."
Blasphemous? Absolutely. Deliberately provocative? You bet.
It is part of a recent art exhibit in Washington that marked the first-ever International Blasphemy Day (Sept. 30) at the Center for Inquiry DC near Capitol Hill.
Artist Dana Ellyn says her "Blasphemy" paintings are a tongue-in-cheek expression of her lack of belief in God and religion.
The self-described "agnostic atheist" — she doesn't believe in the existence of any deity but can't say for sure one doesn't exist — says her introduction to religion was in college when she studied art history. Stories from the Bible, she says, are just that: stories.
"My point is not to offend, but I realize it can offend, because religion is such a polarizing topic," Ellyn said of the exhibit.
Atheists, skeptics, freethinkers and free-speech advocates around the world marked Blasphemy Day by mounting their soapboxes — figuratively and literally — and uttering words and displaying images that may cause offense.
And they're making no apologies.
"We're not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that's not an issue for us," said Justin Trottier, a Toronto coordinator of Blasphemy Day and executive director of the Ontario chapter of the Center for Inquiry. "There is no human right not to be offended."
Later in the article:
Besides the Washington art exhibit, Blasphemy Day events included:
— a Blasphemy-Fest! at CFI Los Angeles that featured a talk about free speech followed by three provocative films;
— supporters worldwide were encouraged to take up The Blasphemy Challenge (blasphemychallenge.com) by uploading their denials of faith to YouTube. A typical recording: "Hi, my name is Ray and I deny the Holy Spirit. (pause) No lightning. Maybe next time." It has nearly 1 million views and 1,500 video responses so far.
— a Speaker's Corner, modeled after the famed soapbox in London's Hyde Park, and a Blasphemy Challenge at CFI Toronto;
— a blasphemy contest held by CFI International, in conjunction with its Campaign for Free Expression, in which participants were invited to submit phrases, poems, or statements that would be, or have been, considered blasphemous. Winners received T-shirts and mugs printed with their winning phrases."The point we're trying to make is that we're against restrictions on speech based purely on the possibility that some people might be offended," Lindsay said. "Because if you go down that path there's no end to it."