Tuesday, January 08, 2008


An unprecedented coalition is coming together in an attempt finally to bury Britain's archaic blasphemy laws. It will be interesting to see what happens to MP Evan Harris' amendment this week. My own statement on behalf of Ekklesia is here, highlighting the theological case for abolition. The Telegraph tells us that "it can reveal" Lord Carey's opposition to blasphemous libel on the statute book. In fact, we first reported it back in October 2005 (these debates move slowly) and the former Archbishop of Canterbury reiterated his position in November 2007, responding to my colleague Jonathan Bartley on BBC1's 'The Big Questions' TV show. The issue has been elevated by the fuss over Jerry Springer - The Opera, which has backfired spectacularly on those who tried to prosecute it. The signatories to the newspaper letter backing an amendment on the issue to to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill are: Philip Pullman, Lord Harries of Pentregarth (former Anglican Bishop of Oxford), Ricky Gervais, Nicholas Hytner, Shami Chakrabarti, Professor Richard Dawkins, Lord Carey of Clifton, Professor A.C. Grayling, Sir Jonathan Miller, David Starkey, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, Stewart Lee, Michael Cashman, Joan Smith, Lady D’Souza, Peter Tatchell, Lisa Appignanesi, Hanif Kureishi, Lord Desai, Roger Smith and Hari Kunzru.

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