Ready for a day to honor blasphemy? According to press reports, September 30 is set as the observance of the first-ever International Blasphemy Day. This could be interesting.
The choice of September 30 looks back to that date in the year 2005, when the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad's face sparked outcry and protests in the Muslim world and threats toward the West.
Now, as Religion News Service reports, the Center for Inquiry is planning a day of observances to mark the occasion. Ron Lindsay, a lawyer who serves as president of the Council for Inquiry International, said that the day was part of the group's effort to expose religious beliefs to investigation. In the words of the RNS report, the goal is "to expose all religious beliefs to the same level of inquiry, discussion and criticism to which other areas of intellectual interest are subjected."
Here is one feature of the day as planned by CFI:
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.
Artist Dana Ellyn told RNS that she is an "agnostic atheist" whose purpose is to be provocative. "My point is not to offend, but I realize it can offend, because religion is such a polarizing topic," she said.
Among other things, CFI International also plans a "blasphemy contest," "in which participants are invited to submit phrases, poems, or statements that would be, or have been, considered blasphemous." Winners are to receive a t-shirt and mug.
Bet you can't wait to see those.
More seriously, participants are also to be encouraged to take up the "Blasphemy Challenge" in which individuals register their blasphemy in the face of Mark 3:29. In that verse, Jesus warns, "whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" [ESV]. Those who take up the "Blasphemy Challenge" record video submissions which must include the words, "I deny the Holy Spirit."
The Blasphemy Day events are certain to draw media attention, which is no doubt the whole point of the observance. That is how a group like CFI can gain publicity for itself and its