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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

They wouldn't do it to Allah or Muhammad!!

In January 2008, Gordon Brown's Labour Government announced that they would consider the abolition of the blasphemy laws during the passage of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill through Parliament.

In March 2008 the House of Lords voted for the laws to be abolished and on 8th May 2008, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 passed through the House of Commons bringing to an end the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel in England and Wales.  The law was to take effect from 8th July 2008.

At the time it was said that the blasphemy law was outdated and no one had been prosecuted under that law for some considerable time. 

The Labour Government consulted with the Church of England and other churches before reaching a decision. Leading figures within the Church of England, including Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, shamefully urged that the laws be repealed. 

The harvest of that repeal has begun to come forth this past week!
A 19 minute long film entitled 'Visions of Ecstasy' and banned for 23 years under these blasphemy laws has now been passed for release, uncut, and given an '18 certificate', which enables it now to be shown in parts of the United kingdom.

The British Board of Film Classification [BBFC], after having taken legal advice at the time, judged the film to be "potentially liable to prosecution". The film was therefore banned amid concerns that one particular scene could leave the film open to prosecution for blasphemous libel. It depicts a 16th Century Spanish nun St Teresa of Avila caressing the body of Jesus as He hung upon the cross. As this scene takes up half the running time of the film the only viable option was to refuse the film a classification.

Back in 1989 the film's Directer Nigel Wingrove unsuccessfully appealed the ruling within the UK and subsequently the distribution company took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1996. The court was asked to judge whether the existence of a law on blasphemy was consistent with the right of Freedom of Expression, guaranteed under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court ruled that the United Kingdom's blasphemy laws were consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights and upheld the ruling. The court ruling stated:
"Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. As paragraph 2 of Article 10 expressly recognises, however, the exercise of that freedom carries with it duties and responsibilities. Amongst them, in the context of religious beliefs, may legitimately be included a duty to avoid as far as possible an expression that is, in regard to objects of veneration, gratuitously offensive to others and profanatory."

Because of the changes to the law in 2008, the film has been resubmitted for classification and the BBFC considered it again this time under the present law. They deemed that the film is no longer likely to be considered illegal under any current legislation, nor was the film likely to be harmful to viewers under the terms of the Video Recordings Act. Although the BBFC recognised that the film retained the potential to offend some viewers, there were no longer any sustainable grounds to refuse a classification and Visions of Ecstasy was therefore given an '18' classification without any cuts.

Thankfully the blasphemy laws still exist in Northern Ireland and there may well be grounds for opposing its screening here. In the House of Lords on 5th November 2009 an amendment was tabled by Lord Lester of Herne Hill to the Coroners and Justice Bill. After debate the amendment was thankfully withdrawn.

Whether the law has changed or not the same likelihood to offend still stands. This film is 'gratuitously offensive' to quote the European Convention on Human Rights. It offends all who love Jesus Christ with  a pure heart fervently. Jesus Christ was without sin. The book of Jude v8 gives a very apt description to those who peddle this type of filth. He describes them as 'filthy dreamers'. What kind of sewer pit mind must someone have to trawl these depths of depravity? It is hard to comprehend how utterly polluted must someone's mind be who dreams up a storyline like this. How accurate are the Scriptures when it reminds us that: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked… Jer 17:9.

There is a simple test to apply to this film: would they get away with doing the same towards Allah or Muhammad? The answer is no!! Every politically correct politician, social commentator etc would be up in arms about such a thing, as well as the whole Muslim community. But when it comes to the honour of Jesus Christ there is a strange silence. No one is interested in standing up for the honour of the Lord Jesus. 

Remember that the Scripture teaches that we are to honour Christ in the same way that we honour the God the Father: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him, John 5:23.

The blaspheming of God is ever the spirit of Antichrist: And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven, Revelation 13:6.

That spirit is developing more and more in this world. The epistle of James, the first to be written in the New Testament era, was not so much about doctrinal issues but rather one of its main themes is how Christians live in a wicked age. First century Christians were facing the same difficulties as we are increasingly seeing in the twenty-first century. James makes mention of those who blasphemed the name of Jesus Christ: Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? James 2:7.
There is much instruction in the book of James for how we ought to live today!

The earnest desire of the true Christian today can be expressed in the words of the Psalmist: O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever? Psalm 74:10.

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