My attention was drawn earlier today to an article in The Times (London). A church put a poster outside reading 'If you think that there is no God you had better be right'. Underneath was a picture of flames.
A passer-by complained to the police who visited the church and recorded the poster as a 'hate incident' but were unwilling to indicate what category of hate it was.
So, here is my question. I am assuming that the complainant found the poster offensive, but do any of us have a right not to be offended? I do not believe anyone can claim that right. For that reason I do not believe that any civilised country should have a blasphemy law. No religion needs or has a right to be protected by law.
The poster referred to above is not in my opinion currying hate. If it offends atheists, tough. Just as the signs posted in London a year or so ago by atheists questioning the existence of God may have offended christians, again, tough.
I accept that some statements, written and spoken, are an incitement to hatred but surely we need to be much more stringent in evaluating whether any statement is genuinely intended to incite hate with the presumption being that it is not. Otherwise there is a real danger that robust and honest debate will be outlawed and an essential freedom compromised. In the example cited above the pastor apologised and removed the poster. I think that is a shame.