Norway finally scraps its blasphemy law

Norway finally scraps its blasphemy law

Back in 1933, Norwegian writer Arnulf Øverland – pictured above addressing Christian students in 1962 – was the last person to be prosecuted under Norway’s blasphemy law for giving a lecture titled ‘Christianity, the tenth plague’. He was acquitted.

However, blasphemy remained a “crime” in Norway – until this week, when it was reported here that Norway had scrapped the law in a direct response to January’s brutal attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The proposal to rush through the change was made by Conservative MP Anders B Werp and Progress Party MP Jan Arild Ellingsen, who argued that the law:

Underpins a perception that religious expressions and symbols are entitled to a special protection. This is very unfortunate signal to send, and it is time that society clearly stands up for freedom of speech.

The decision to push through the change was attacked as “cultural suicide” by Finn Jarle Sæle, editor of the Norwegian Christian weekly, Norge IDAG.

In 2012, the year in which Norway officially separated church from state, the country was found to be one of the eight best nations in which to be an atheist.

There’s a strong correlation between the happiest countries in the world and the least religious countries in the world, and along with Sweden and Denmark, Norway rates at the top of both list …

People likely look to religion less when they want for less, for one thing, but it also may be that atheism flourishes in nations where people demonstrate high levels of commitment towards a socially just government and shared economic benefits.

If you have faith in your nation and your fellow citizens, putting faith in religion as well might just seem rather pointless.

• The picture above shows Arnulf Øverland  delivering an amended version of his “Christianity, the tenth plague” in 1962. Photo: Aage Storløkken, active/NTB Scanpix.

19 responses to “Norway finally scraps its blasphemy law”

  1. Maggie says:

    Excellent move to a more civilised society. While in the UK, some people are fighting to take society back hundreds of years.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    I do like seeing success stories and bits of free thought history. Thank you Barry.

  3. Broga says:

    Excellent news.

    The UK is moving backwards apart from the super rich. I’ve just been to vote: Labour on the basis of the least worst option. I hope “Laughing” Farage loses. I’ve just heard about his pitiful anti gay joke at a “best man” speech he gave at a wedding. He says there was “no malice” in his comments. He hasn’t got a clue.

  4. dennis says:

    Thank you Norway and Barry. I have just been insulted and crushed by evangelical xtians here in TEXAS because our governor thinks the us army is going to invade TEXAS. such a difference from Barry’s light and my state’s darkness.

  5. Barry Duke says:

    Broga, I too hope that Farage loses – and loses badly. For all sorts of reasons, but for this in particular:

  6. Newspaniard says:

    I hope UKIP gets 40 seats and gets us out of the EU with all that entails so “Yah, Boo, Sucks” with a resounding Thrrrrup to the rest of you.

  7. John says:

    Well, at least one good thing has come out of the Charlie Hebdo murders.
    This is a highly appropriate riposte to the murderous lunatics, dead though they now are after throwing their lives away for nothing.
    Perhaps we in this country and all other countries across Europe should mark the murders in a similar fashion too?

  8. Broga says:

    Barry: I think that link you sent reflects the real feelings of many in UKIP. The perpetually laughing Farage is really a hate filled oik and he and his many thicko mates have found a way to attract support from the dumber voters. These innocents think cutting immigration, returning to what they see as the Empire values and religious belief and, of course, our royals with their begging bowl ever ready will solve all our problems.

    Regarding the values of Empire I like the comment in the excellent “Explorers of the Nile” by Tim Jeal that Imperialism is another word for unchecked exploitation.

    As for leaving the EU, I think that whatever its defects, and they are many, to leave the EU would be an economic disaster for the UK.

    Farage is a political toxin and I hope he will be cauterised by the voters at last waking up.

  9. SimonJ says:

    That’s nothing! Iceland has only just repealed a law making it legal to kill Basques (the person from France/Spain, not the item of underwear) on sight. Dates back to a Basque fishing boat shipwreck in 1615 where the survivors were reduced to stealing from the locals, so it became acceptable to shoot on sight.
    I don’t think the tradition has been followed very much recently.

  10. Barry Duke says:

    Did anyone spot the error in my headline?

    I didn’t until I received this bollocking: “You’ve fallen victim to the ‘finally’ disease.I fight against this solecism in Scottish newspapers. Will I have to fight against you?”

    Sheesh. Pedants make me wanna reach for a gun.

  11. Broga says:

    Nope. Missed it. But if we are considering words that piss me off then I nominate “unbelievable.” We watch something, perhaps a goal, and are then told that what we have just watched is unbelievable. In the last Olympics every medal by UK athletes was the result of an unbelievable performance.

    Another (last one) is “hilarious” which is attached to all kinds of supposedly very funny, but usually ordinary, pictures.

  12. Stephen Mynett says:

    Broga, the use of “hilarious” reminds me of the “canned” laughter used by TV companies, without this annoying addition it would not always be possible to identify what is supposed to be a comedy programme.

  13. […] such laws on the books even if they’re never actually used. One such country, Norway, has repealed its blasphemy law to send a […]

  14. AgentCormac says:

    Well done Norway – the future looks bright, the future looks atheist (and here in the UK, hopefully UKIP-free).

    Completely OT, but the following is an interesting insight into how the orthodox church in Georgia is using its influence in schools to turn out right-wing, Putin-loving religiots.

  15. Broga says:

    Stephen Mynett: Canned laughter is such an irritant I switch off. Banal comments e.g. “I’m going now” are met with gales of laughter.

  16. zombiehunter says:

    I never even Knew Norway had a blasphemy law baring in mind this is the country that gave us black metal which is probably the most blasphemous and anti Christian/religion subgenre of metal there is.

  17. John C says:

    Slightly relevant given the voting disscussion, the last man in parliament with honest intentions was Guy Fawkes.

  18. zombiehunter says:

    Guy Fawkes was a mercenary fighting for the Spanish royal family and if the plans to destroy parliament had succeeded it would have resulted in an invasion from spain who wanted to install a catholic monarch on the throne this would mean that this country would have ended up with the same abortion laws which Ireland has and that’s just one example of how bad it would have been.

  19. Vanity Unfair says:

    By Odin, this is good news.