Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Saturday, 2 January 2010

Blasphemy in the Irish Republic: Your comments

Pope Benedict XVI
The words of Pope Benedict XVI are among the quotations published

An atheist group in the Irish Republic has published a series of anti-religious quotations on its website, defying amendments to defamation law which makes blasphemy illegal.

The quotations include the words of writers such as Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, but also Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad and Pope Benedict XVI.

Under the amendments, which came into force on 1 January, blasphemy is punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (£22,000; $35,000).

We asked BBC website readers for their views on the new law. Please find a selection of comments below.

Read the full story

Visit the Atheist Ireland website

Read the amendments in Part 5 of the Defamation Act 2009

I'm an atheist with Irish grandparents. I'm surprised by this law as I think free speech is more important than a law against blasphemy. If you don't believe in god, as I don't, blasphemy doesn't exist.
Chris, Ammanford, UK

As a Christian country, this law is appropriate. If Saudi Arabia can protect its religion, what is wrong with the Irish Republic doing the same?
Dipo Akinseinde, Ibadan, Nigeria

Blasphemy should be dealt with as a crime. It deeply hurts any believer of the respective religion.
Ph. Pöllitzer, Keetmanshoop, Namibia

There is NO way blasphemy should be a crime. Who gets to say what they consider blasphemous and what other areas of free speech/thought would be next?
Andy Allan, Edinburgh, UK

The atheists' group should keep there views to themselves. There is no harm in religion - the harm comes when people knock the harmless views of others which allow them to live a relatively peaceful life. So the group should keep their views to themselves - no one is making them go to mass on Sunday or the mosque on Friday or the synagogue on Saturday. Just be considerate of those who choose to.
Open Minded, Mayo, Irish Republic

Yes, I agree with them, keep the church out of the state. Religions can influence law making, but shouldn't control it. However, this is an Irish matter so let them decide.
A, Manchester, UK

There may be a case for prohibiting the deliberate demeaning of the sacred - but to prohibit the expression of sincerely held beliefs which may belittle the sacred is surely counter to the value of free speech - which both the religious and atheists hold so dear.
Stephen, Perth, Australia

I am an evangelical Christian and I disagree with this law as it is counter productive. Although I fundamentally disagree with atheists, I am happy to engage them in discussions about my faith in Jesus. In fact, to prohibit such views makes a mockery of Christian initiatives such as Alpha, where all are invited to ask difficult questions and engage in robust debate.
Paul Le Page, Guernsey, UK

These blasphemy laws will be a joke. Who will decide what is blasphemy and what is not? The government? The law courts? The Church will be a laughing stock around the world if it presses ahead with any accusation, especially based on Mark Twain's prattlings. Even a faithful churchgoer could find themselves tangled in a secular court case for saying anything that the arbitrator deems risky. Inquisition mentality returns to the Irish Republic.
BlahNii, Australia

I believe a blasphemy law undermines freedom of speech. Religious people can express their views like anyone else. They would not want to prove the validity of their opinions. Similarly those of a secular point of view should be able to challenge an unproven opinion without fear of the law. Blasphemy laws of years gone by have been used to persecute free thinkers and hold back the developments in society and technology that most of us now live by. The age of ignorance should not be born again.
R. Leith, Glastonbury, UK

Surely the religious contingent would prefer people to follow their own path of their own free will rather than blackmailing them to the tune of £22,000? Such a law would be an almost incomprehensible step backwards in my opinion.
James Tomlinson, Bath, UK

This law is incredibly outdated and has no place in an integrated forward-thinking country in the 21st century. That the country has now legislated against a secular constitution must have angered many tens of thousands of non-Christian inhabitants. It is a further blow to liberty and freedom of speech.
Mike Fudge, Cardiff, UK

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