Blasphemy Day news - Taking aim at God on 'Blasphemy Day'
>I wonder where can we find those atheist art on the web? If you guys find
> By Moni Basu
> *(CNN)* -- In his youth, Ronald Lindsey planned to enter the priesthood,
> so fervent was his devotion to God. But these days, Lindsay is devoted to
> protecting a person's right to ridicule, criticize -- even lambaste God.
> [image: Super Bowl Sunday Praying for a Hail Mary was painted by Dana
> Super Bowl Sunday Praying for a Hail Mary was painted by Dana Ellyn.
> You might say he is a blasphemer's savior.
> The devout Catholic turned non-believer leads a movement that is all about
> protecting people's rights to speak irreverently about religion.
> Criticizing God is an act punishable by death in several nations. In
> America, blasphemy laws remain on the books in six states, though they are
> largely arcane and not enforced.
> But everywhere, it seems to Lindsay, scoffing at God is not socially
> People are willing to tolerate the harshest statements about the president
> of the United States, he said. But talk about Jesus<http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Christianity>or
> Mohammed <http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Islamism> -- that's a whole
> different ball game.
> "We think religious beliefs<http://topics.edition.cnn.com/topics/Religion>should be subject to examination and criticism just as political beliefs
> are," said Lindsay, 56, who heads the Center for Inquiry<http://www.centerforinquiry.net/>in Amherst, New York, an organization that claims about 100,000 followers
> worldwide. "But we have a taboo on religion."
> Outraged by nations that want to execute blasphemers and propelled by a
> deep belief in the freedom of expression, Lindsay is forging ahead with his
> "nothing is sacred" movement. Wednesday marks the first organized observance
> of Blasphemy Day, a series of events, exhibits and lectures unfolding in a
> host of mostly North American cities that are part of a larger Campaign
> for Free Expression.<http://www.centerforinquiry.net/news/the_center_for_inquiry_launches_campaign_for_free_expression/>
> The day coincides with the fifth anniversary of a Danish newspaper's
> publication of controversial cartoons about Mohammed. The depictions of the
> prophet wearing a bomb as a turban with a lit fuse sparked protests by
> Muslims worldwide and prompted media outlets to censor themselves.
> But to Lindsay, a society is not truly free unless people can freely air
> their views on any subject -- including God.
> The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when asked about the day on
> Wednesday, declined to comment.
> Blasphemy Day even includes a contest that invites participants to come up
> with slogans that might be judged blasphemous by society. And, yes, the
> winner gets a T-shirt heralding the prized slogan.
> Lindsay offered this sample: "There's nothing wrong with God that a dose of
> reality won't cure."
> Some of the entries are so crude they can't be published by CNN. But since
> the Center for Inquiry is all about freedom of expression, it can't reject
> any of them.
> Lindsay has made it clear that expletive-ridden, crass slogans are not the
> type of entry that is destined to win, but he makes no apologies for
> statements that might offend a devout person's sensitivities.
> Neither does artist Dana Ellyn, 38, of Washington D.C., who is showing her
> provocative paintings of God and religion in a special Blasphemy Day show
> Wednesday evening.
> Ellyn grew up as a non-believer but later studied religion on her own to
> understand it. After all, she said, it's such an important part of society.
> She found the concept of faith fascinating. It was an unknown to her.
> She painted a scene from Noah's Ark with a black child sitting under the
> table. How did the races evolve, her art asks those who believed in the
> Biblical tale? She portrayed Jesus painting his crucifixion nails after she
> noticed a church group using space next to a nail salon in a shopping mall
> stung by recession.
> She said she realizes her work makes people uncomfortable, though her
> intent is not to disrespect.
> "Even to say, 'I don't believe in God' is enough to knock someone out of
> their chair and then to see it in a picture ... I've had a lot of hate come
> my way."
> And even though she doesn't believe in hell, she feels a bit uneasy hearing
> that she is going straight to it.
> "I am in no way trying to be a poster child for atheism," Ellyn said. "But
> I don't want to be punished for not believing in God."
> Ellyn said she never means to harm anyone, so she finds it frightening that
> someone could be punished -- or lose their life -- over remarks or actions
> considered blasphemous. An Afghan student journalist was sentenced to death
> for distributing a paper that allegedly blasphemed Islam. A British
> schoolteacher spent time in a Sudanese jail after she allowed her students
> to name teddy bears after Mohammed.
> These are cases that worry Lindsay and the members of his organization. He
> is most distressed by the U.N. general Assembly considering next month a
> binding resolution on the defamation of religion.
> All this did not come easy to Lindsay, the son of Catholic parents who
> bared his soul in a confession booth each week. Later, he studied religion
> and philosophy in at Georgetown University. The more he read, the more he
> questioned beliefs that had been ingrained from childhood.
> Slowly, the would-be-priest turned into an atheist lawyer -- and a
> 21st-century defender of time-worn sacrilege
some let me/us know.
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