Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales Written Evidence

Submission from the Manchester Buddhist Centre

   Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the religious offences and blasphemy laws. I would like to comment specifically on the blasphemy laws.

  It is well known that the notion of a personal God, the creator and ruler of the universe, has no place in the Buddha's teaching, and that throughout its history Buddhism has in fact rejected the notion as detrimental to the moral and spiritual development of mankind. Under the present interpretation of the law any Buddhist bearing public witness to the truth of this fundamental tenet of Buddhism, whether in speech or writing, therefore runs the risk of committing the crime of blasphemy and being punished accordingly. Not only that. Any Buddhist publishing those sections of the Buddhist scriptures in which the notion of an omniscient and omnipotent Supreme Being is actually ridiculed by the Buddha in terms which some would regard as being; "indecent and offensive" in the extreme (eg Kevaddhu Sutta, Digha Nikaya No. 11) also runs the risk of committing the crime of blasphemy—even though the offending words were spoken 500 hundred years before Christianity was born.

  For Buddhism there is no such thing as blasphemy; in fact Buddhism does not even have a proper term for blasphemy. So long as blasphemy remains a criminal offence Buddhists, like other non-Christians, do not enjoy complete freedom of expression in religious matters and are, in effect, penalised for their beliefs. For Buddhists in Britain, whether Eastern or Western in origin, it therefore follows that the law of blasphemy should be abolished altogether. It should not be extended to cover other religions.

26 June 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003