A Constitutional Convention held in Ireland has recommended that the offence of blasphemy be removed from the constitution.
Out of the 100-member group the vote regarding removing the reference to blasphemy was 61% in favor, with a recommendation that it be replaced with a more general provision against incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion.
According to press reports the vote on removing blasphemy as a legislative offence was almost equally divided, with 50% against its removal, 49% in favor, and 1% undecided.
The convention will prepare a report for the government, which in turn will decide whether to hold a referendum on the issue.
The convention heard arguments from a wide variety of groups, ranging from Church organizations to atheists and humanists.
Among the statements presented was a declaration by the Irish Council of Churches, which represents the major Christian churches in Ireland.
“As Churches in Ireland we acknowledge that the current reference to blasphemy in the Constitution of Ireland is largely obsolete and may give rise to concern because of the way such measures have been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world,” the statement declared.
Freedom of conscience and religion is vital for the well-being of society the Council affirmed.
“The human right of faith communities to contribute to public life, including public debate on issues that are of importance to everyone, without being subjected to attack or ridicule, needs to be acknowledged and respected,” it added.
The rights of individuals and communities to live their faith should be protected by law, the statement said. “We urge the Convention to assist the Government of Ireland in making our country a leading example of protection for freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and the human rights of minorities.”
On the Net:
Text of statement - http://www.irishchurches.org/news/920/icciicm-remarks-to-the-constitutional-convention-on-the-blasphemy-provision-in-the-constitution-of-ireland
Website of the Convention on the Constitution - https://www.constitution.ie/