Californian Engineer Charged With Blasphemy After Allegedly Turning Off Loud Speaker At Mosque

In our ongoing coverage of blasphemy prosecutions, the case of Gregory Luke, 64, in Indonesia is a standout. The retired Californian engineer is charged with blasphemy for allegedly turning off a speaker system during Ramadan playing prayers throughout the night. He denies that he did so, but the allegation was enough for a crowd to tear apart his home on Lombok island and Luke to be arrested.

Luke admits that he went to the mosque to complain that the amplification of the prayers was too loud. He said that he was immediately set upon by the crowd and prosecutor Baiq Nurjanah is now demanding seven months jail for blasphemy.

I have previously criticized the Obama Administration’s retreat in supporting an international blasphemy measure to appease Middle Eastern allies.
We have seen an increase in such blasphemy prosecutions in the West.

Luke asked for mercy and a light sentence before the court — despite the fact that he previously denied the allegations. He said that he was attacked when he asked for the volume to be turned down and then stoned. He was then chased to his home, which was tore apart while the local police watched and did nothing. Notably, the police did not charge a single person for the attack on Luke or ransacking his home. It appears those crimes are not covered under Sharia law – at least in this case.

Source: Telegraph

Jonathan Turley

29 thoughts on “Californian Engineer Charged With Blasphemy After Allegedly Turning Off Loud Speaker At Mosque”

  1. Gyges: Heinlein’s last novel, “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls” was probably his weakest novel, IMHO. At least it was the one I cared for the least. One pretty much has to start at the beginning to understand the series. The first appearance of Lazarus Long was in the short novel, “Methuselah’s Children,” which appeared in 1958 and should be read first. If you started with “Time Enough for Love,” you got off to a rocky start. You started the story in the middle and would have missed the back story.

  2. I conjecture that my mere mortal existence is a blaspheming heretical apostasy. Of course, that conjecture could itself be a blaspheming heretical apostasy, and, if I am such an apostate, surely I am guilty of finding the whole spectrum of the notion of guilt to be an addictive delusion.

    I collect and read diverse “religious” texts. Alas, I observe religion to be an inseparable aspect of humanity; given that I always notice that all things deemed of “religion” are things so deemed by people who do not actually understand what they deem to be of religion.

    My collection of religious texts (for brevity, I shall give only titles — and I do not expect anyone to read the following list) includes, and vastly exceeds:
    “The Te of Piglet,” “The Varieties of Religious Experience,” “Why I Am Not a Christian,” “Issues in Science and Religion,” “Science and Religion,” “Models of God,” “Atheist Delusions,” “Heresies and How to Avoid Them,” “Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works,” “Tales of the Hasidim,” “The Little Prince,” “Shipman on Common Law Pleading,” “An Introduction to Economic Reasoning,” “Civil Procedure, Fifth Edition,” “Handbook for Judges,” “Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws,” “What’s So Bad About Guilt?” “Tales of the Hasidim,” “Nonviolent Communication,” “Theory and Practice of Psychiatry,” “The Uses of the Past,” “The Mark,” “The New Man,” “Young’s Analytical Concordance,” “A Philosophy of Science,” “The Biology of Belief,” “the Holy Qaran,” “The Bhagavad Gita,” “The Physical Foundation of Biology,” “Thieves in High Places,” “The Lucifer Principle,” “Contempt of Court,” “The Interpretation Game,” “The Case Against Lawyers,” “Obedience to Authority,” “Life Without Lawyers,” “Guilty,” “The Lucifer Effect,” “The Roots of Evil,” “Making Your Case,” “Law and the Conditions of Freedom,” “How Judges Think,” “The Ethics of Autism,” “”How to Argue and Win Every Time,” “Democracy on Trial,” “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy,” “IQ in the Meritocracy,” “The Road Less Traveled and Beyond,” “The Bell Curve,” “Repenting of Religion,” “The Purpose of Physical Reality,” “The Creative I and the Divine,” “Maximum Security,” “The Meaning of Persons,” “NFPA 70: National Electrical Code,” and one for which I will give the author, it being my favorite law book, “The Law of Congregational Usage,” by William Barton.

    I observe, as a function of the social aspects of human biophysics, that “religion” is a name for whatever is regarded as not totally trivial which is not understood. For any specified event, total understanding is impossible because of the limits of observation (which limits include inextricable observational error and quantum-mechanical indeterminacy); thus I find every event is partly of religion in accord with the observable manner in which any person can observe any event.

    In my Ninth Edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, I observe that religion is defined only in terms of established religious institutions; the definition (on page 1405) begins with, “A system of faith and worship usu. …”

    Leaving out all the exceptions and variations which follow the first “usu.” in that definition, I observe, in said definition, that “a system” is effectively (or functionally) equivalent to “an establishment.”

    I am not an establishmentarianist, nor am I a disestablishmentarianist, or an antidisesbablishmentarianist. Without exception, as I have been able to observe humans and learn of human history, every human “system” which functions as an establishment, in order to maintain the establishment or system, gets driven toward despotic tyranny. This is structural to the intrinsic nature of establishment; it is not about the particular people who take on the establishment-saving-destroying roles of despot or tyrant.

    What may separate me from “mainstream” humanity is a simple “failure” on my part; I never went through the process of the infant-child transition (the avowedly normative terrible twos) and I never learned to believe that I, or anyone else, is ever to blame for anything.

    It thus is my lifelong experience, and my finding as a bioengineer who has diligently and exhaustively studied the neuro-bio-physics of decision-making as an aspect of the evolution of human society, as much as contemporary science permits that the human religious tradition of “guilt” is a form of religious delusion, notwithstanding the evidence that billions of people may resolutely believe otherwise; and notwithstanding the evidence of the apparent contrary belief held by billions (virtually the whole entirety of humans) of people since before the dawn of recorded history.

    Given the limited understanding of astrophysics at the time of Galileo Galelei, his notion (an accurate observation in retrospect?) of Jovian moons was perhaps vastly less heretical, vastly less blasphemous, and vastly less of apostasy than what I have observed in my work as a religious-scientist-engineer.

    For myself, if for no one else, I cannot actually elude being religious any more than I can elude being scientific, until I have learned everything that can ever be learned. As long as my life is not of infinite, perfectly accurate knowing and understanding, I will have no recourse to religious methodologies of dealing with those aspects of the events of my life which I have yet to learn to understand without error or any possibility of error.

    Perhaps a little story, one not necessarily banned from exposure by being of privileged communication. The little story, a true story, but represented here with the inescapable errors inherent in and intrinsic to all forms of story-telling:

    My dad, as his parents were, was an ordained minister, his ministry was within the Congregational-Christian and United Church of Christ faith communities. My dad was first educated, at home and at Carleton College as a scientist, at Carleton, he majored in philosophy and minored in astronomy, biology, and Greek. After Carleton, he finished his student-only days at The Chicago Theological Seminary. He, like me, his parents, my mother, and my brother, held the philosophical view that there can not be any valid conflict between “religious truth” and “scientific truth.”

    For myself, I invariably observe religious truth and scientific truth to be orthogonal, one speaking to what is not yet understood and the other to what is already understood. This leads me to an incapacity to internalize dogmas or doctrines of any kind, type, or sort. I have one dogma, “there shall be no other dogma,” and one doctrine, “there shall be no other doctrine,” and I am profoundly skeptical of that dogma and that doctrine.

    Instead of using dogmas and/or doctines, I use the procedure (or, in the Alfred North Whitehead sense, the process) of direct observation; I toss out every interpretation from an event which comes to my attention that I can shed, what scant interpretations remain are hypotheticals for my responses to future events.

    I am thereby not captured or imprisoned by notions from the past which the evolution of human society has functionally obsoleted. Were I to treat as an object of worship any belief of any sort whatsoever, I would be a captive of the past and incapacitated in my ability to learn and understand without prejudice the events of my continuing life.

    As for the word “God,” used above, I have a simple process definition for that word. ” ‘God’ is the reason why, such that, if there is no reason why, ‘God’ is the reason why there is no reason why; and if there is no reason why there is no reason why, ‘God’ is the reason why there is no reason why there is no reason why… ad infinitum. Or, for Whitehead adherents, “God” is the process of existence.

    I tend to think of the process of existence as the ongoing creation of evolution and the ongoing evolution of creation; the process of existence being named “creation” when it goes relatively rapidly and evolution when it goes relatively slowly.

    Methinks humans, as a species, may be working through a not-very-well-understood decision; whether to have a future existence or whether to not have a future existence. If we continue to play adult variations of the childish game of king of the mountain, our future looks very dismal to me.

    The nifty thing about king of the mountain is, it is easier to be on top of the mountain if the mountain is very small. The best way to make the mountain small, if the mountain be an economic mountain, that I can imagine is an economy in which competition (and resulting escalating reciprocal retaliation as an optimization of decisively effective competition) is an object of both faith and worship that minimizes the economic mountain. Is that not a sadly useful representation of our present economy?

    More blasphemy on my part?

    The emperor’s new suit? What emperor?

  3. Lotta, Buddha, and OS,

    Got to admit I’m not a big fan of Mr. Long. But, the only book I’ve read with him in it is “Time Enough For Love,” which I’ve been told is the problem.

    I always wondered why Rand got set up as the ultimate Libertarian author. She’s a hack compared to Heinlein.

  4. Given the case law of federal District of Columbia Sieverding v. DOJ # 1, they could probably get a court order saying that complaining about noise is prohibited and then if anyone complains about noise they could be imprisoned for “civil contempt”.

  5. Perfection, Bob.

    Did you know after “This is Spinal Tap” came out that Marshall started making amps that really did go up to 11?

    It just goes to show a good joke is hard to keep down.

  6. rafflaw,

    However, once you’ve accepted the premise that God speaks, it makes perfect sense that what he says is the truth.

  7. rafflaw

    “Mr. Luke,
    It is time to leave Indonesia or to buy some ear plugs.”



    And you’re right — we’re heading in the same direction if the religious right have anything to say about it. It is “nuts”…

  8. Otteray Scribe, Thanks for those quotes and the self-generating reminder to read the Lazarus Long books. I read several short stories featuring the character but never got around to all of them or the novel/novels. I need to do that.

  9. If you want a deity, check your pocketbook. Imagine the look of horror on the faces of the Faithful as you slowly, meticulously, savoring each dissolution of bonds between fibers, when you tear a $100 bill in half lengthwise. And then another. And throw in some lesser bills for effect.

    THEN the masses shall set upon YOU!

    Religion can be stopped quite simply at the collection plate. You know who you are.

  10. The brilliant science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein created a character named Lazarus Long. Part adventurer, part philosopher, Lazarus had several pithy observations on religion and its effect on governments and society. On blasphemy:

    “Of all the strange ‘crimes’ that human beings have legislated out of nothing, ‘blasphemy’ is the most amazing —with ‘obscenity’ and ‘indecent exposure’ fighting it out for second and third place.”

    On religion and political power:

    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”

    And on the morality of deities:

    “Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.”

    And on religious leaders:

    “Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.”

  11. Mr. Luke,
    It is time to leave Indonesia or to buy some ear plugs. This is nuts. This incident is another example of religion taking over a government. This is what we are headed for if the religious right gets their way. It is kind of funny that you can be charged for blasphemy for doing or saying something about a religion, even if it is true! The truth is no longer a defense when God says something different.

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