The Vatican has filed a formal complaint with the Israeli government about a private Israeli TV show that it claims blasphemed Jesus and Mary. On the program, the host challenges the idea that Mary was a virgin and Jesus walked on water as a “lesson” for Christians who deny the Holocaust. The host was upset about the Pope lifting the excommunication of a bishop who denied the holocaust. The Israeli government’s response, however, is worse than both the program and the objection.
The host, Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, Mary is said to have become pregnant at 15, thanks to a schoolmate. It said Jesus could never have walked on water because “he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit.”
Obviously, these statements are neither funny nor productive. Yet, the show appeared on the private Channel 10, one of Israel’s three main TV stations, and should not be censored as a matter of free speech. Yet, the Israeli government immediately conceded and said that it would interrupt the transmission and get the broadcaster to publicly apologize. The act by the government is far worse than the juvenile statements of this program host. The Israeli government has shredded free speech rights on the alter of religious sensibilities.
This follows a trend of treating criticism of religion as a form of prohibiting discrimination. The Vatican was joined by Hezbollah in condemning the program.
Western countries have been yielding to demands to criminalize criticism of religion, a trend that threatens the foundations of free speech (here). This includes efforts to define criticism of religion as a form of discrimination, here.
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