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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

...What it is blasphemy to deny

Annie Besant was one of the most articulate of the Thesophists, and mounted a powerful attack on the dogmatic view of religion, especially the inconsistencies in the Old Testament. Admittedy, there is plenty of ammunition there in the text.

The Christian Creed; or, What it is Blasphemy to Deny
by Annie Besant (1883)

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A struggle has began, which promises to be one of the fiercest that this century has seen, between the bigots and persecutors on the one hand and the supporters of free speech on the other.

It appears, then, worth while to look closely into this Christian creed, which claims the right to imprison and torture men of pure life for non-belief in its tenets. Christianity threatens us with persecution here and damnation hereafter if we do not believe its doctrines. “He that believeth not shall be damned,” says Jesus. “He that believeth not shall be imprisoned and pick oakum,” says Mr. Justice North. The threat of damnation would trouble us little if it stood alone—we could put off consideration of that until we arrived in the other world; but the threat of imprisonment here is unpleasant. If we are to burn for ever hereafter, the Christians might really allow us to enjoy ourselves here; is their malice (like their hell) such a bottomless pit that an eternity of torture is not enough to fill it up?

Let us see what we must believe on peril of damnation and Newgate. (1) We must believe the “Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be of divine authority;” (2) we must believe each “one of the persons in the Holy Trinity to be God,” while (3) we also believe that there are not “more gods than one;” (4) we must believe the “Christian religion to be true;” we are strictly forbidden to publish any “ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible, or the formularies of the Church of England as by law established,” and are warned that we shall not be saved by our remarks being “intended in good faith as an argument against any doctrine or opinion.”

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