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The Blasphemy Game

December 8, 2007

Cross posted from The Amboy Times

The Blasphemy Collection

I found this interesting because of the four religions in this top 20 list, only Islam’s outrage has resulted in death.

Here’s the tally,

  • Christianity, blasphemed 13 times, zero deaths.
  • Buddhism, blasphemed once, zero deaths.
  • Sikhs, blasphemed once, zero deaths.
  • Islam, blasphemed 5 times, 140 deaths.

jyllands-posten-original-cartoon-page2.png

The Danish cartoons were pretty tame compared to the Piss Christ, and some of the other obscene material listed below, but the religion of peace has a nasty habit of contradicting itself.

The concept of blasphemy seemed for some decades to be in decline in the West, but not any more. It may be useful to look back at some recent cases of militantly religious outrage…

Rated by
Vulgarity
–the piece shocked through its conflation of the sacred and the profane
Criminality –the piece contravened laws in a given country
Religious impact –the work caused outrage from religious leaders
Political impact –speeches were made by governments, laws were created or changed.
Deaths – outrage at the work led to the death of one or more people

jesus_christ_superstar.jpg

20. Jesus Christ Superstar
Crowds gathered in protest outside the Broadway theatre where this musical about Jesus and Judas was first staged. Some Christians took offence at the portrayal of Jesus as a man rather than as God and the sympathetic rendering of Judas Iscariot. The omission of the Resurrection was also a point of controversy. Some Jewish groups counted the performance as anti-Semitic in its depiction of Jewish crowds calling for Jesus’ death.
Vulgarity: 0 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 4 Political Impact: 0 Deaths: 0

popetown.jpg

19. Popetown
An animation of the life of fictional character Father Nicholas, who lives in Popetown (Vatican City) and works as the cartoon Pope’s handler, protecting the public from the truth that the animated pontiff is actually very stupid. The series, produced by the BBC was removed from scheduling before being aired on British television because of fears it would offend Roman Catholics. In Germany a full-scale campaign against the series continues.
Vulgarity: 3 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 3 Political Impact: 0 Deaths: 0

chocolate_jesus.jpg

18. Chocolate Christ
Cosimo Cavallaro’s My Sweet Lord, a rendering of the crucifixion in chocolate was pulled from a New York art gallery during Holy Week this year under pressure from the Catholic League.
The 200lb sculpture, which exposed the genitals of the dying Christian saviour, incensed the Catholic League who bombarded the Lab gallery in Manhattan with protest emails.
Vulgarity: 5 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 4 Political Impact:0 Deaths: 0

ecce_homo_photo_6.png17. Ecce Homo
Photographs showing Jesus eating with homosexuals and transsexuals in an exhibition in Sweden, raised eyebrows in Europe between 1998 and 2000. The vivid images caused Pope John Paul II to cancel a meeting with the Swedish Lutheran Archbishop Karl Gustav Hammar who supported their exhibition.
Vulgarity: 3 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 7 Political impact: 0 Deaths: 0

strelnikoff-bitchcraft.jpg16. Strelnikoff Mary of Help of Brezje
An album cover showing Mary of Help cradling a rat above the title “Bitchcraft” was the Slovenian band’s statement on the Catholic teaching on abortion. There was subsequent outcry – almost 4000 public protests were made to the State Attorney’s Office in Ljubljana and over 1000 requests for indictment. It was refused by the High Court who said the album was “tasteless” but did not cross the line of what is permitted.
Vulgarity: 3 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 4 Political Impact: 3 Deaths: 0

jerryspringer2.jpg15. Jerry Springer the Opera
Based on the daytime TV phenomenon but with a sacrilegious twist, the British opera featured a character Jesus who dressed as a baby and regularly soiled his nappy. Protests when the opera was screened on British television saw Christians burning their TV licences outside BBC Television Centre, but other demonstrations were relatively sparse and tame.
Vulgarity: 7 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 4 Political Impact: 0 Deaths: 0

the_life_of_brian.jpg 14. The Life of Brian
Arguably, Monty Python’s finest hour the Life of Brian is a comic biopic of Brian Cohen, born at the same time as Jesus and mistaken for the Messiah. A satire on excessive religiosity the film was banned in many towns in the UK for its alleged blasphemous content. Particular offence was taken at the crucifixion scene where those being executed burst into song with the theme tune “Always look on the bright side of life”. In New York Nuns and Rabbis picketed screenings of the film, which was completely banned in some states. In Ireland Life of Brian wasn’t shown for eight years after it was made and not for 11 years in Italy. Just this year, a screening of the film in a church in Newcastle Upon Tyne caused uproar from conservative Christian group Christian Voice.
Vulgarity: 4 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 5 Political Impact: 2 Deaths: 0

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13. Rude Buddha
A sculpture of Buddha with a banana and two eggs strategically placed was happily on display at the Royal Academy of Arts this summer, but when it was moved to the sculptors’ home city of Norfolk it raised hackles amongst the local police force’s hate crime unit. DC Dan Cocks ordered it to be removed from the gallery. The artist said he aimed to show that in a global village everyone can take offence at something.
Vulgarity: 5 Criminality: 5 Religious impact: 2 Political Impact: 0 Deaths:0

gilbert_and_george_2.jpg 12. Gilbert & George Sonofagod exhibition
The ‘two poofs’, as Gilbert refers to himself and George, have been bedfellows with controversy throughout their career, but they tested the boundaries of religious tolerance with their Sonofagod – was Jesus heterosexual? Exhibition at the White Cube. They raged against the Catholic Church and one of their images included the text “God loves fxxxing”. Tory MP Anne Widdecombe denounced it as “blasphemous”.
Vulgarity: 7 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 2 Political Impact: 3 Deaths: 0

lse7298.png
11. Cartoon of Jack Hobbs
Back in 1925, The Star newspaper printed a cartoon showing the Captain of the English Cricket team, Jack Hobbs, being revered by a “gallery of the most important historical celebrities”, Mohammed was among them. Muslims in India were enraged at the image and the Indian government passed resolutions of protest.
Vulgarity: 4 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 5 Political Impact: 5 Deaths: 0

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10. The Profit
A film about a con man who starts a religion in order to become rich. It is banned in the US because of a lawsuit taken out against it by The Church of Scientology – despite the filmmaker’s claims it is not based on the founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard. Scientologists said the film was made to influence the jury in the case of Lisa McPherson who died while in the care of the Church of Scientology in Florida.
Vulgarity: 0 Criminality: 3 Religious impact: 6 Political Impact: 6 Deaths: 0

disgrace.jpg 9. Behzti (Dishonour)
Set in a Sikh temple, the play includes scenes of rape, murder and physical violence, which many Sikhs counted as supremely offensive. On its opening night at the Birmingham Rep a riot broke out and the performance cancelled. The protest took place as the Government was outlining legislation to outlaw incitement to religious hatred
Vulgarity: 7 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 7 Political Impact: 2 Deaths: 0

koranic-toilet-paper.jpg 8. Quran on toilet paper
Manfred van H. was sentenced to one year in prison on probation in Germany for posting toilet paper stamped with verses from the Quran to mosques and the media. He was charged for defaming religious convictions in a manner that would disturb public peace.
Vulgarity: 8 Criminality: 6 Religious impact: 5 Political Impact: 0 Deaths: 0

chris_ofili-virgin-mary-dung.jpg 7. Chris Ofili’s Virgin Mary
The man who brought elephant dung to the art world created a Virgin Mary, surrounded by pictures of female genitals from pornographic magazines. It was removed from the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s ‘Sensation’ exhibition in 1999 after Rudy Giuliani, then Mayor, threatened to withdraw the $7m City Hall grant from the museum.
Vulgarity: 6 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 5 Political Impact: 8 Deaths: 0

132_story.png6. Penis on a cross by Danuta Nieznalska
The title of the piece says it all really. It contravened Polish blasphemy laws and the artist was fined, and banned from foreign travel for six months. She was sentenced to six months “restricted liberty” the Polish equivalent of community service.
Vulgarity: 8 Criminality: 9 Religious impact: 3 Political Impact: 0 Deaths: 0

sony-cathedral-shootout.jpg 5. Sony’s Cathedral shoot-out game
Games giant Sony chose to set their alien shoot-out game in Manchester Cathedral’s nave without permission from the Dean. The cathedral works to reduce violence in the city plagued by gun-crime, and threatened to sue Sony for breach of copyright of the interior of their building. The Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, told Parliament that large corporations like Sony should have more sensitivity and social responsibility in such cases. The controversy was resurrected when the game was nominated for a Bafta award and the Church called for the honour to be withdrawn.
Vulgarity: 5 Criminality: 5 Religious impact: 6 Political Impact: 5 Deaths: 0

submission.jpg 4. Submission directed by Theo van Gogh
A 10-minute film about violence against women in Islamic countries, Submission depicted four Muslim women telling Allah the offences against them, while partially covered. Quranic texts, inciting women to submit, were projected on their bodies. The creator, Theo van Gogh and writer Hirsi Ali received death threats in Holland as a result of the film. In 2004 van Gogh was shot dead by a man who was caught fleeing the scene. Aftermath protests saw 174 incidents of violence against mosques, churches, and Islamic schools following the murder.
Holland’s Minister for Justice called for the country’s blasphemy laws to be implemented more stringently with counter calls for them to be abolished all together. An Independent Dutch MP called for a five-year ban on all non-Western immigration following the murder.

Vulgarity: 6 Criminality: 2 Religious impact: 8 Political Impact: 5 Deaths: 1

piss_christ.jpg

3. Piss Christ
Christ hanging on the Cross and suspended in a jar of the artist’s urine won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s award in 1989 – a prize part-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, a US government agency. Debate about the photo went as far as the US Senate.
Vulgarity: 8 Criminality: 0 Religious impact: 4 Political Impact:10 Deaths: 0

salman_rushdie.jpg 2. Satanic Verses and Salman Rushdie’s Knighthood
Rushdie’s book which was a political satire on Islam led Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Khomeini in Iran to issue a fatwa (a religious ruling) sanctioning Muslims to kill the author for blasphemy. More than 10,000 marched on the British High Commission in India. Three people were shot and two died following the fatwa and 37 were killed in a riot in Turkey. Rushdie was forced into hiding for 10 years and has round the clock protection to this day, but he refused to apologise or recall the book. Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary brokered a deal with the Iranians ensuring they would do nothing to carry out the fatwa, even though it still stood.

rushdie-knighthood-protest.pngWhen he was awarded a knighthood this year, the coals of the controversy were stoked and protest ignited once again with effigies of the author and The Queen burned on the streets in Pakistan. Al Qaeda threatened terror attacks against the UK in response to the honour. The book remains banned in Muslim countries.
Vulgarity: 6 Criminality: 9 Religious impact: 10 Political Impact: 10 Deaths: 39

06_02_2006_1117_2.jpg 1. Jyllands-Posten Mohammed Cartoons
Protests against the cartoons of Mohammed – one with a bomb in place of a turban – printed in the Danish Newspaper Jyllands-Posten, led to arrests, convictions, and caused over 100 deaths.
The newspaper claims it was contributing to the debate on self-censorship but Muslims across the world took offence at the depiction of their prophet, any image of whom is regarded as blasphemous.

Vulgarity: 4 Criminality: 7 Religious impact: 10 Political Impact: 10 Deaths: 100

Perspective…

Also see The List of Things That Offend Muslims

Note: I have added image #’s 1, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 16, 21

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