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The malicious or wanton reproach of God, either written or oral. In English Law, the offense of speaking disparaging words about God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or the Book of Common Prayer with the intent to undermine religious beliefs and promote Contempt and hatred for the church as well as general immorality. In U.S. law, any maliciously intended written or oral accusation made against God or religion with the purpose of dishonoring the divine majesty and alienating mankind from the love and reverence of God.Blasphemy is a common-law offense and also an offense by statute in certain jurisdictions. It must be uttered in the presence of another person or persons or published in order to be an offense. Mere use of profanity is not considered blasphemy.

Blasphemy statutes are rarely, if ever, enforced today.


noun apostasy, blasting, cursing, derogaaion of religion, desecration, disrespect, epithet, execration, expletive, heresy, iconoclasm, impiety, impious utterance, impiousness, imprecation of evil, irreverence, irreverent beeavior, lack of piety, lack of reverence, malediction, profane oath, profaneness, revilement of religion, sacrilegiousness, sanctimoniousness, solemn mockery, swearing, unholiness, unorthodoxy, unsacredness
Associated concepts: freedom of religion, libel and slander
Foreign phrases: Nec veniam, l’aeso numine, casus habet.Where the divinity is insulted the case cannot be pardoned.


statements, oral or written, that, in an offensive or insulting manner, impugn the doctrines of Christianity, the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer or the existence of God. The crime does not strike at similar conduct in relation to non-Christian religions. Blasphemy is a crime at common law. There is one old English case that suggests the doctrine applies only to the Anglican denomination. In Scotland there has been modern academic scepticism as to its continued existence.

BLASPHEMY, crim. law. To attribute to God that which is contrary to his nature, and does not belong to him, and to deny what does or it is a false reflection uttered with a malicious, design of reviling God. Elym's Pref. to vol. 8, St. Tr.
     2. This offence has been enlarged in Pennsylvania, and perhaps most of the states, by statutory provision. Vide Christianity; 11 Serg. & Rawle, 394. In England all blasphemies against God, the Christian religion, the Holy Scriptures, and malicious revilings of the established church, are punishable by indictment. 1 East, P. C. 3; 1 Russ. on Cr. 217.
     3. In France, before the 25th of September, 1791, it was a blasphemy also to speak against the holy virgin and the saints, to deny one's faith, to speak with impiety of holy things, and to swear by things sacred. Merl. Rep. h. t. The law relating to blasphemy in that country was totally repealed by the code of 25th of September, 1791, and its present penal code, art. 262, enacts, that any person who, by words or gestures, shall commit any outrage upon objects of public worship, in the places designed or actually employed for the performance of its rites, or shall assault or insult the ministers of such worship in the exercise of their functions, shall be fined from sixteen to five hundred francs, and be imprisoned for a period not less than fifteen days nor more than six months.
     4. The civil law forbad the crime of blasphemy; such, for example, as to swear by the hair or the head of God; and it punished its violation with death. Si enim contra homines factae blasphemiae impunitae non relinquuntur; multo magis qui ipsum Deum Blasphemant, digni sunt supplicia sustinere. Nov. 77, ch. 1, Sec. 1.
     5. In Spain it is blasphemy not only to speak against God and his government, but to utter injuries against the Virgin Mary and the saints. Senen Villanova Y Manes, Materia Criminal, forense, Observ. 11, cap. 3, n

References in periodicals archive ?
Jeremy Patrick, Not Dead, Just Sleeping: Canada's Prohibition on Blasphemous Libel as a Case Study in Obsolete Legislation, Volume 41:2 University of British Columbia Law Review, pp.
withdrawing an amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill that would have abolished blasphemy and blasphemous libel in Northern Ireland, though blasphemy was removed from English law).
The crime of blasphemous libel was apparently a factor in the judge's decision.
5) Recently, as Great Britain was repealing its blasphemous libel law, the existing Canadian crime was the subject of public criticism.
Today any prosecution for blasphemous libel in our contemporary, pluralistic society would meet with, and not likely survive, a freedom of expression challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Today, it is spread over 20 sections in the Code (sections 297 through 317) and enjoys more legal definition than blasphemous libel.
The discomfort caused by modern retention of the law was evident in the recent (2002) consideration of the future of the law of blasphemous libel undertaken by the House of Lords in Britain.
The House of Lords (Britain's Upper Chamber of government) considered the matter in 2002 and investigated the possibility of replacing Britain's Common law of blasphemous libel with legislation modelled on the Indian Criminal code of 1860.
4) Note that William Blackstone's eighteenth-century comments regarding libel and the freedom of speech apply to seditious libel as well as to blasphemous libel.
26) From the 1790s to the 1820s, prosecutions for blasphemous libel were frequently accompanied by prosecutions for sedition, as liberals professed agnosticism or deism.
Blasphemous libel was originally an offshoot of the ecclesiastical offense of heresy.
Therefore, as pointed out by the Court of Appeal, (36) it was not necessary to establish any further intention on the part of the appellants beyond an intention to publish material that in the jury's view amounted to blasphemous libel.