A coming together of BHA and Baroness Warsi.
Warsi [said] that while genuine, hateful religious intolerance should be confronted [and] incitement to religious hatred remains an offence in Britain, a blasphemy law once on our statute book was abolished in 2008 – in part because [...] it was incompatible with the freedom of speech.
Copson [...] said [...] “Mere criticism of religion – even though it may always be perceived as offensive or blasphemous by some religious groups and individuals – cannot be automatically prohibited as hateful. Rather, the expression of humanist ideas, atheist and critical ideas per se must be protected.”
Warsi has previously been criticised by humanists and secularists in the UK for endorsing a greater role for Christian and other religious groups in national policy, and describing some forms of secularism as “intolerant and illiberal”. “Freedom of religion or belief applies equally to humanists, atheists and other non-religious people [...] emphasis on religion or belief as – in her words – a universal right for all, rather than as a privilege for a majority religion in any given country.
Some forms of secularism are indeed intolerant and illiberal, so the real topic here is balanced freedom of expression. My one point to add here is this – it is criticism per se that is protected as a universal right, not a right to offend. No offence, but …. has to be seen to be meant sincerely by mutual respect of human individuals.