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definitions - Blasphemy

blasphemy (n.)

1.blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character"desecration of the Holy Sabbath"

2.blasphemous language (expressing disrespect for God or for something sacred)

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Merriam Webster

BlasphemyBlas"phe*my (�), n. [L. blasphemia, Gr. : cf. OF. blasphemie.]
1. An indignity offered to God in words, writing, or signs; impiously irreverent words or signs addressed to, or used in reference to, God; speaking evil of God; also, the act of claiming the attributes or prerogatives of deity.

☞ When used generally in statutes or at common law, blasphemy is the use of irreverent words or signs in reference to the Supreme Being in such a way as to produce scandal or provoke violence.

2. Figuratively, of things held in high honor: Calumny; abuse; vilification.

Punished for his blasphemy against learning. Bacon.

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definition (more)

definition of Wikipedia

synonyms - Blasphemy

see also - Blasphemy


-Average Blasphemy • Blasphemy (album) • Blasphemy (band) • Blasphemy (disambiguation) • Blasphemy (novel) • Blasphemy Act • Blasphemy Act 1698 • Blasphemy Made Flesh • Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit • Blasphemy and the United Nations • Blasphemy law • Blasphemy law in Afghanistan • Blasphemy law in Algeria • Blasphemy law in Australia • Blasphemy law in Bangladesh • Blasphemy law in Egypt • Blasphemy law in Indonesia • Blasphemy law in Iran • Blasphemy law in Ireland • Blasphemy law in Jordan • Blasphemy law in Kuwait • Blasphemy law in Malaysia • Blasphemy law in Nigeria • Blasphemy law in Pakistan • Blasphemy law in Saudi Arabia • Blasphemy law in Yemen • Blasphemy law in the United Arab Emirates • Blasphemy law in the United Kingdom • Blasphemy law in the United States • Digital Blasphemy • Freedom of speech versus blasphemy • Gods of War (Blasphemy album) • Islam and blasphemy • Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case

analogical dictionary




Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things.[1] Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy,[2] while others have laws to give recourse to those who are offended by blasphemy. Those laws may discourage blasphemy as a matter of blasphemous libel,[3] vilification of religion,[4][5] religious insult,[6] or hate speech.[7]



The word "blasphemy" came via Middle English blasfemen and Old French blasfemer and Late Latin blasphemare from Greek βλασφημέω, from βλάπτω = "I injure" and φήμη = "reputation". From blasphemare also came Old French blasmer, from which English "blame" came. Blasphemy: 'from Gk. blasphemia "a speaking ill, impious speech, slander," from blasphemein "to speak evil of."'[8] "In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps. 74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse (1 Kings 21:10; Acts 13:45; 18:6, etc.)."[9]

  Blasphemy laws

In some countries with a state religion blasphemy is outlawed under the criminal code. It has been claimed[10] that such laws can be used to victimize non-members of, and dissident members of, the state religion.


  The satirical Alexamenos graffito is believed to be the earliest known representation of Jesus.

Christian theology condemns blasphemy. It is spoken of in Mark 3:29, where blaspheming the Holy Spirit is spoken of as unforgivable—the eternal sin. However, there is dispute over what form this blasphemy may take and whether it qualifies as blasphemy in the conventional sense; and over the meaning of "unforgivable". In 2 Kings 18, the Rabshakeh gave the word from the king of Assyria, disuading trust in the Lord, asserting that God is no more able to deliver than all the gods of the land. In Matthew 9:2, Jesus spoke the words "Your sins are forgiven you." and He was accused of blasphemy, although as the Son he is entiled to do so.

Blasphemy has been condemned as a serious, or even the most serious, sin by the major creeds and Church theologians.

  • Thomas Aquinas says that “it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor. … it is called the most grievous sin, for as much as it makes every sin more grievous.”[11]
  • The Book of Concord calls blasphemy “the greatest sin that can be outwardly committed”.[12]
  • The Baptist Confession of Faith says: “Therefore, to swear vainly or rashly by the glorious and awesome name of God…is sinful, and to be regarded with disgust and detestation. …For by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked and because of them this land mourns.”[13]
  • The Heidelberg Catechism answers question 100 about blasphemy by stating that “no sin is greater or provokes God's wrath more than the blaspheming of His Name”.[14]
  • The Westminster Larger Catechism explains that “The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane...mentioning...by blasphemy...to profane jests, ...vain janglings, ...to charms or sinful lusts and practices.”[15]
  • Calvin found it intolerable “when a person is accused of blasphemy, to lay the blame on the ebullition of passion, as if God were to endure the penalty whenever we are provoked.”[16]

  Catholic prayers and reparations for blasphemy

In the Catholic Church, there are specific prayers and devotions as Acts of Reparation for blasphemy.[17] For instance, The Golden Arrow Holy Face Devotion (Prayer) first introduced by Sister Marie of St Peter in 1844 is recited "in a spirit of reparation for blasphemy". This devotion (started by Sister Marie and then promoted by the Venerable Leo Dupont) was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1885.[18] The Raccolta Catholic prayer book includes a number of such prayers.[19] The Five First Saturdays devotions are done with the intention in the heart of making reparation to the Blessed Mother for blasphemies against her, her name and her holy initiatives.

The Holy See has specific "Pontifical organizations" for the purpose of the reparation of blasphemy through Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ, e.g. the Pontifical Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face.[20]

  Writer Salman Rushdie was accused of blasphemy and subject of a fatwā issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in February 1989.

  Death sentence

In Britain's last blasphemy execution, 20-year-old Thomas Aikenhead was executed for the crime in 1697. He was prosecuted for denying the veracity of the Old Testament and the legitimacy of Christ's miracles. In recent years, George Rosie wrote in the newspaper The Scotsman that "The killing of Thomas Aikenhead, like the hounding of Salman Rushdie for the same 'offence,' was a disgrace…a prime example of a God-fixated state killing a man in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea."[21]


The Quran and the hadith do not mention blasphemy.[22] According to Pakistani religious scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, nothing in Islam supports blasphemy law.[23] Rather, Muslim jurists made the offense part of Sharia; the penalties for blasphemy can include fines, imprisonment, flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading.[24] Muslim clerics may call for the punishment of an alleged blasphemer by issuing a fatwa.[25]


In the third book of the Torah, Leviticus 24:16 states that he that blasphemes the name of the LORD "shall surely be put to death". See also List of capital crimes in the Torah. The Seven laws of Noah, which Judaism sees as applicable to all people, prohibit blasphemy.

  The United Nations

In the early 21st century, blasphemy became an issue for the United Nations. The General Assembly passed several resolutions which called upon the world to take action against the "defamation of religions."[26]

  Colloquial usage

Blasphemy has been used to mean "irreverence" in a non-religious context. Sir Francis Bacon uses "blasphemy" in this way in Advancement of Learning, where he speaks of "blasphemy against teaching".

"Blasphemy" may be used as a substitute for "profanity" or "cursing" as it is used in this sentence: "With much hammering and blasphemy, the locomotive's replacement spring was finally fitted."

In contemporary language, the notion of blasphemy is often used hyperbolically. This usage has garnered some interest among linguists recently, and the word 'blasphemy' is a common case used for illustrative purposes.[27][28]

  See also


  1. ^ "Blasphemy | Define Blasphemy at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blasphemy. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  2. ^ See Blasphemy law.
  3. ^ Kerr, ine (9 July 2009). "Libel and blasphemy bill passed by the Dail". The Irish Independent. http://www.independent.ie/national-news/libel-and-blasphemy-bill-passed-by-the-dail-1813479.html. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  4. ^ "ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ACT 1991 – SECT 124A 124A Vilification on grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity unlawful". Austlii.edu.au. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/aa1991204/s124a.html. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Victoria Police – Racial and religious vilification". Police.vic.gov.au. http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?document_id=23370. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), ''Report on the relationship between freedom of expression and freedom of religion: the issue of regulation and prosecution of blasphemy, religious insult and incitement to religious hatred'', 17–18 October 2008, Doc. No. CDL-AD(2008)026". Merlin.obs.coe.int. http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=11512. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  7. ^ See Blasphemy law and Hate speech.
  8. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary – Blasphemy". Etymonline.com. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=blasphemy. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  9. ^ (from Easton's Bible Dictionary) Psalm.74:18;Isaiah.52:5;Romans.2:24 Revelation.13:1;Rev.13:6;Rev.16:9;Rev.16:11;Rev.16:21 1Kings.21:10;Acts.13:45;Acts.18:6 
  10. ^ Sources of claims:
  11. ^ Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica 2:2, q. 13.
  12. ^ The Book of Concord The Large Catechism, §55.
  13. ^ The Baptist Confession of Faith Ch. 23, §2–3.
  14. ^ The Heidelberg Catechism Q. 100.
  15. ^ Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 113.
  16. ^ Jean Calvin: Harmony of the Law vol. 4. Lev. 24:10.
  17. ^ Act of Reparation for Blasphemies Uttered Against the Holy Name, Righting Wrongs Through Prayer By Scott P. Richert, About.com
  18. ^ * Dorothy Scallan. The Holy Man of Tours. (1990) ISBN 0-89555-390-2
  19. ^ Joseph P. Christopher et al., 2003 The Raccolta, St Athanasius Press ISBN 978-0-9706526-6-9
  20. ^ Letter for 50th anniversary of the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face, 2000 Vatican archives
  21. ^ "Thomas Aikenhead". 5.uua.org. http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/thomasaikenhead.html. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  22. ^ Saeed, Abdullah; Hassan Saeed (2004). Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam. Burlington VT: Ashgate Publishing Company. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-7546-3083-8. 
  23. ^ Islamic scholar attacks Pakistan's blasphemy laws Guardian 20 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010
  24. ^ "Islamic Voice". Islamic Voice. http://www.islamicvoice.com/April2006/QuestionHour-DrZakirNaik/. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Blasphemy Salman Rushdie". Constitutional Rights Foundation. 2009. http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/blasphemy-salman-rushdie.html. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  26. ^ U.N. Resolutions:
  27. ^ Recanati, F. (1995) The alleged priority of literal interpretation. Cognitive Science 19: 207–32.
    Carston, R. (1997) Enrichment and loosening: complementary processes in deriving the proposition expressed? Linguistische Berichte 8: 103–127.
    Carston, R. (2000). Explicature and semantics. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12: 1–44. Revised version to appear in Davis & Gillon (forthcoming).
    Sperber, D. & D. Wilson (1998) The mapping between the mental and the public lexicon. In Carruthers & Boucher (1998: 184–200).
    Glucksberg, S. (2001) Understanding Figurative Language: From Metaphors to Idioms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Wilson, D. & D. Sperber (2002) Truthfulness and relevance. Mind 111: 583–632.
  28. ^ Relevance and Lexical PragmaticsPDF (87K) UCL Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics. Retrieved 24 October 2011

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