In a recent blog post, Russell Moore laid out why he believes blasphemy laws are wrong. He writes, "Fundamentally... blasphemy laws and other uses of state power to enforce religious belief or worship are themselves a repudiation of the beliefs themselves. A religion that needs state power to enforce obedience to its beliefs is a religion that has lost confidence in the power of its Deity."
Take a minute to read his article. Don't worry, we'll wait.
Now, there are numerous problems with this article. For starters...
We now live in a nation under blasphemy laws. Some are written as diversity codes or hate crimes. Many others are unwritten. There is no god but Tolerance and Moral Relativism is his/her prophet. Try opposing sodomy, feminism, abortion, paganism, or antinomianism in the workplace, classroom, legislature, or boardroom...
You'll be marginalized, if not silenced or fired, as a bigot beset by irrational animus and prejudice. Take, for example, the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct that govern lawyers. I may not refuse to represent a homosexual on the basis of that man's homosexuality. College students studying to join the helping professions aren't being allowed their union cards if they want to love homosexuals by not conniving at their sin. Caterers that refuse to sell cupcakes for Rainbow Pride Day are harassed and bullied to no end. An employee who tells a co-worker that he cannot join in the celebration of her "marriage" to her girlfriend is called on the carpet by his boss. We saw what happened to Chick-fil-A when one of its leaders refused to bow the knee to PC minders. City officials in Chicago and Boston began rattling the zoning saber. We saw what happened to Doug Wilson on IU's campus.
Examples could be easily multiplied. In light of this obvious state of affairs, what possible usefulness is it to attack Christians who lived four hundred years ago? Aside from cultivating or maintaining academic respectability, I can think of none. Isn't the real problem that we Christians are ashamed of Jesus and His Word? Don't we need to be called to faithfulness in having our speech seasoned with salt, saving some? And don't we need our rulers to be called to protect our--that is, Christians'--freedom of speech, association, and religious exercise, which are so heavily under attack?
Laws criminalizing blasphemy aren't identical logically or legally with outlawing false religions. Abraham Kuyper, who served his country as a Prime Minister, theologian, and newspaperman, supported blasphemy laws even in the 20th century.
There's a distinction between forbidding blasphemy that publicly impugns the Living God and tolerating false religion carried on quietly out of the public eye. If Christians as a rule have been so bigoted and impossible to live with, why have Jews, Turks, Infidels, Atheists, Socinians, Muslims, and others historically flocked to live in Christian lands and particularly in America? They've sought to live in Christian countries because they've found a certain tolerance to live in civil peace even if that tolerance hasn't risen to the level of awarding them full rights to the free exercise of their false religion.
Blasphemy laws don't force people to give obeisance to the Gospel. Blasphemy laws, as they have historically been enforced in this country, have forbidden public profanation of the Living God.
Moore hasn't made the case that blasphemy laws have necessarily borne the fruit of apostasy. Lands that were the first to be Christian were the first to become post-Christian as those lands forgot Almighty God and as they began to serve the creation and love their wealth, which wealth is itself the fruit of Christian spiritual capital. Similarly, it happened during the Middle Ages as monastic orders began as humble reforms of corrupt orders and then in turn because of "spiritual success" became wealthy and then corrupt, which then prompted the establishment of other poor humble orders and so on.
Further, there is a fundamental difference between the Church of England (fully established with Monarch and Head of Church as the same man by virtue of the office of King) and the American church. Established state churches are corrupting of both the church and state. That's one major reason why our forefathers in decades after the American Revolution disestablished churches in American states that had them and stopped forcing nonmembers to pay for them.
What I don't have a right to do, I don't have a right to assist someone else in doing. I don't have a right from God to worship the false god of Allah. Likewise, I don't have the right to assist someone else in securing civil rights to worship Allah. It's never right to sin or to help someone else to sin.
It's appalling that a Christian, let alone a Christian theologian with charge over pastors-in-training, would call other Christians to do this. It's political correctness and religious pluralism run amuck and it denies the holiness of Almighty God.
No influential Reformed Evangelical alive today is agitating for blasphemy laws. It makes you wonder why Moore is leading the charge against non-existent or dead adversaries like Calvin who thought the civil magistrate should have as much concern for the First Table of the Law as the Second.
Other arguments against reinstating Christian blasphemy laws (not to be confused with blasphemy laws that persecute Christians) could be made. For instance, Christian prudence in light of the post-Christian culture we live in might require us to fight other evils now in the city gates and not try to re-establish blasphemy laws that our forefathers were able to enact in their day. Or wisdom might say even if a bare electoral majority could reinstate Christian blasphemy laws, a large plurality of lawbreakers and widespread disregard of the law would lead to more evil than good.
But again who alive and influential today is demanding such a thing? You might as well write a blog post urging Congress not to renounce our national sovereignty and rejoin the British Empire.
In short, Moore's post makes you think that equality among religions is possible, even desirable. I don't think it's possible, and to act as if it is desirable is willful naiveté.
("Ezra Hale" is a pseudonym.)