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Oklahoma Republican lawmaker says it's time to get rid of state blasphemy law

Oklahoma Republican lawmaker says it's time to get rid of state blasphemy law

In Oklahoma, if you speak against God or religion, you can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. The state's blasphemy law was enacted in 1909 and a Republican lawmaker says it is time to rescind it.

State Rep. Randy Grau told KWTX Channel 10 news, "It says you can't disparage or insult God or Christ or the Holy Spirit or the Christian or any other religion." Referring to recent demonstrations in Muslim countries, he added, "And what we're seeing is people saying, I'm going to react violently if you say something that I don't like about my religion, about whatever it is. That's exactly the type of chilling effect that the United States of America has fought against, what we've been hearing recently, for this call to really crack down on freedom of speech." He told the news station that the blasphemy law was probably well-intentioned when it was enacted in the early 1900s (see video embedded below).

In 2009, GodDiscussion reported on the various state blasphemy laws in the United States. Oklahoma's blasphemy laws include:

§21 901. Blasphemy defined.
Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.

§21 902. Serious discussion not blasphemy.
If it appears beyond reasonable doubt that the words complained of were used in the course of serious discussion, and with intent to make known or recommend opinions entertained by the accused, such words are not blasphemy.

§21 903. Blasphemy a misdemeanor.
Blasphemy is a misdemeanor.

"Well, it will keep people positive," a woman told News Channel 10 when asked what she thought about blasphemy being a misdemeanor in the state. When asked his views, a man opined, "I think you have some point about freedom of speech there, but then again if it incites riots, then that's another thing."

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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Johnson/578763485 Robert Johnson

    WOW! That's amazing that law was even passed and that it lasted so long being in direct opposition and violation of the First Amendment. Based on that law many of America's key founders and revolutionaries who were Deists would be arrested, especially Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen who wrote The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and Reason: The Only Oracle of Man.

    Progress! Bob Johnson
    http://www.deism.com

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