Blasphemy Laws in Germany
Quoted from the Rationalist International Bulletin # 59 (Dec. 22, 2000)


Germany's Catholic hard-liners are fed up. Every time they want a blasphemer to be punished, they have to go out in the street, demonstrate, make scenes and disturb the public peace in order to mobilize the public prosecutor to file a case. This is not only exhausting and dangerous, sometimes all their efforts are not even successful!

For example, in the case of the play "Corpus Christy", by the US playwright Terence McNally, which was performed in the city of Heilbronn this year. It infuriated fundamentalist Christians by presenting Jesus and his apostles as boozing homosexuals. They took to the streets and tried their best to disturb the public peace. To their utter disappointment, however, the public prosecutor refused to file charges against anybody involved in the production of the play since the play did not fulfill the requirements of the blasphemy law. Since then they feel the blasphemy law is good for nothing and has to be changed.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister Christian Social Union (CSU) are sounding the charge against blasphemers these days. They lament against an increase of blasphemous attacks against Christians in TV, radio, cinema and advertisement, and complain that religious freedom for Christians in Germany is in danger. They have prepared a draft legislation to be discussed in the Upper House of the parliament, the Bundestag, in order to tighten paragraph 166 of the German penal code. In its current form, the blasphemy paragraph 166 foresees punishments of fines or prison up to three years for those who "insult publicly or by distribution of writings the contents of creed or ideology (Weltanschauung) of others in a way that is suitable to disturb the public peace." The new hard-liner initiative wants to change this. They want to cut all references to public peace and to get the state to become active by itself.

A change of legislation, according to the proposed draft, would mean a major shift. If the value protected by the state is no longer "public peace" but "religious belief", Germany would join the ranks of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan. Interestingly, the German blasphemy law goes back to the year 538 C.E (Justinian's Novelle 77), in which Christian religion was made state religion. In its present form it was established in 1933 in the Concordat between Hitler and Pope Pius XII.

Commentary from Eunacom:
There is something strange about this.  Does not the new German constitution (the so-called "Grundgesetz") guarantee freedom ef expression, free speech, and freedom of conscience?  Have not the contracts signed by the Nazi-regime under Hitler been abrogated?  How could Roman Catholicism be the "state religion" of the new German Federal Republic today? Cardinal Ratzinger of Austria, a radical who would love to re-introduce the Spanish Inquisition today in Europe, in all likelihood supports this new initiative to ensalve the German people under the Roman (Vatican) dictatorship.   Wasn't Hitler enough?  It is high time to cut the ties of the secular German federation with the Vatican dictatorship.  It is hoped the German Parliament will finally abrogate the 1933 Concordat between the Nazis and the Papacy and bring Germany in line with the secularism of the enlightened modern world.  Aside from all that, why are relgious entities not prosecuted for false advertising when they promise Paradise and eternal bliss to all those who follow their rules unquestioningly while never providing one single shred of evidence that their promises will be fulfilled?  Why are, instead, those who point that out threatened with prosecution?