A recent article in the Houston Post reported on an English law which prohibited blasphemy. The law came to light after the Sudanese incident in which a British school teacher was arrested for blasphemy over naming a teddy bear Mohammed. After considerable debate the British Parliament voted to abolish this law. Predictably, certain religious proponents raised the issue of
One member of the House of Lords was quoted as saying
"….. the freedom we have today was nurtured by Christian principles and continues to be guided by them." This is a provocative contention to say the least.
It is a commons contention that a free society must be governed by the rule of law. The inherent contradiction in this is lost on many. Freedom can never be enhanced by rules because rules by definition restrict freedom. Somehow in our society we have been conditioned to accept as a truism that some people, ostensibly the majority though in fact an elite few, are in a position to determine what are the right rules for everyone to live by. The rule-makers, by implication, assume a moral/intellectual superiority over those who must simply follow the rules. Left unanswered is the question of who is actually qualified to make the rules- who is actually superior.
Embedded in this legalistic paradigm is the basic idea of class distinction, the very thing that autocratic governments have historically nurtured and cherished. Whether class distinction is assumed based on birth, wealth, or moral superiority is of little consequence. The result of its use in societal governance is the same, rule by elitists, and any form of elitism can never produce true freedom. The fact that the elitists claim to be guided by God only makes them identical with all the autocratic institutions of the past. Autocrats have always teamed up with the institutional church to control the people. People who feel superior are dangerous to the liberty of others. This includes so called "Christians" who would bind their private interpretation of the Bible on the rest of their fellow men. In claiming the support of democratic tradition in binding such, they deny freedom and highlight the historical paradox of relying on laws to achieve a free society.
The only thing that can possibly guide a person in a free society is his or her conscience. Such a state of freedom in our vernacular is defined as anarchy, a completely negative sounding term. The dictionary, however, gives two definitions of anarchy, the negative one which is a violent state of disorder and a positive one, a utopian society with absolute freedom. We may not be in a position to achieve such a utopia at present, but that is no reason to mistakenly conclude that freedom and law are somehow inseparable. They are in fact polar opposites.
Even more problematic for "Christian" law advocates is the clear fact that the crowning principle of Jesus' message to the Jews of His day was freedom. He came to make them free. His was a ultimately a mission of law fulfillment and subsequent abolishment. Paul in Galatians drew a sharp distinction between a legal system under the Old Covenant and the promise of freedom in the New Covenant of Christ. Making the work of Christ all about a new law-keeping system, denies the very message of the entire Bible, because the whole book pointed to Him and His ultimate freedom.