Believe it or not, you can be charged for blasphemy in Ireland. And gay comedian, actor and activist Stephen Fry -- who is also an aetheist -- is now in trouble after he criticized God on a TV show several years ago.
In 2015, Fry was interviewed by Irish TV presenter Gay Byrne for the channel RTE. Fry was asked what he would say if he were to find himself at the pearly gates and see God waiting there to greet him.
I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about?
How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil.
Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.
He then added: "... the god that created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac… utter maniac, totally selfish."
A member of the public complained to the police, claiming that Fry's statement was a violation of the country's Defamation Act. After an initial complaint didn't seem to go anywhere, he complained again late last year. Apparently, an investigation in now underway.
"I told the Garda I wanted to report Fry for uttering blasphemy and RTE for publishing/broadcasting it and that I believed these were criminal offences under the Defamation Act 2009," the man, who insisted on remaining anonymous, told reporters. "The garda then took a formal written statement from me in which I quoted Fry’s comments in detail. This written statement mentioned both Fry and RTÉ specifically."
The man also claimed he was not personally offended by the comments, but felt it was his duty to report a crime when he sees one.
The law does directly address the issue of blasphemy. It states that "a person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000."
The normally talkative Fry has said nothing about the charges. A spokesperson released a statement for the actor, explaining, "[There is] nothing for us to say while this is under investigation."
You'd think that is an all-powerful deity were actually peeved at something like this, he or she would just smite the offending party. As there has been no smiting, we can assume God has already gotten over it.
For now, Fry is still a free man enjoying life in England where he lives with his much younger husband.
Stephen Fry investigated by Irish police for alleged blasphemy [The Guardian]
Comedian Stephen Fry focus of blasphemy complaint: report [Global News]