Religious Tolerance Shouldn’t Be Rocket Science

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Around October 1696, a 19-year old boy named Thomas Aikenhead was arrested in Great Britain on charges of blasphemy.

According to prosecutors, during the year Thomas had made a lot of statements that were considered provocative and could arouse civil unrest in the society.

These statements included saying that theology was "a rhapsody of feigned and ill-invented nonsense" and made up of "poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras".

The state charged him with saying that the Old Testament is "Ezra's Fables" and that the New Testament is "the History of the impostor Christ who learned magic in Egypt and picked up a few ignorant blockish fisher fellows".

His 'friends' who were coopted to testify against him said that Thomas had told them that the Trinity is "not worth any man's refutation", scoffed at the incarnation as contradictory, professed pantheism, and denied creation.

They even said he declared to them that he preferred Mohammed to Jesus and hoped to see Christianity soon extirpated.

For daring to say this much, Thomas, aged 20, was hung to death on January 8th, 1697.
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Today most of us look back and wonder how a progressive Britain could engage in such a barbaric act. Yet here we are in the same 2020 having people supporting the arrest and trial of a supposed blasphemer who is due to be tried under a system, with as much as a death sentence hanging over him.

Mubarak Bala's offence? He spoke against the Prophet.

His offence? They say his statement would incite a mob into civil unrest.

The same people who will not be incited against widespread poverty and insecurity in their land will be offended about a Facebook post.

The joke is on everyone who supports this gross disregard of freedom of speech.

We should build on our tolerance of free speech and use counterspeech for those we disagree with, not seek imprisonment (or worse death) for people whose words we don't like.

I repeat, if you only support religious freedom for people of your don't support religious freedom.

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