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house Bill H. Res. 512

Should the House Call for the Repeal of Blasphemy, Heresy & Apostasy Laws Around the World?

Argument in favor

Blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws are tools of religious discrimination and oppression that can pose real risks to religious minorities around the world. In accordance with its tradition of supporting religious freedom at home and abroad, the U.S. should call for these laws’ removal from legal systems around the world. This is a bipartisan issue supported by religious and secular human rights groups alike.

Leslie's Opinion
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12/07/2020
Sounds like the Crusades all over again to me! Why are we dredging up the worst current and historical events (Crusades, Fatwas, Inquisition, McCathyism, Sharia Law, etc) to resurrect?
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Kevinmshea's Opinion
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12/07/2020
Although our country are more than occasional hypocrites on this topic, I do believe complying with the United Nations Humanitarian Rights are the direction that all should good to.
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Dave's Opinion
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12/07/2020
We as a country have in the constitution freedom of religion? Yet we support discrimination of religious beliefs around the world and here in the USA? Sort of a double standard of discrimination, in religion by religionists leaders, which the religions groups push these law, to force there religious belief on others. Government used this position to control the people, we against them and the justification. Another reason why it’s one thing to believe in God, but it another to believe in religion that push their morality in the name of God, which government use to justify discriminate, jails and deaths. I do believe in god, just not man made religion, ran by men with political agendas to maintain greed, power and control. Religion have gave us wars, Crusades, dark ages, Spanish Inquisition, Isis, pedophiles, slavery, deaths and more all in the name of God. You have only three forms of control of the people, religious groups (dictatorship), corporations (dictatorship) and people (democracy), but all are called some form of a government.
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Argument opposed

Although it is true that blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws are used to discriminate against religious minorities in some countries, that is generally not the case. In most countries, these laws are not enforced despite being on the books. Raising this issue with all countries regardless of their enforcement — or lack thereof — of these laws is a waste of the President’s and State Dept.’s time.

Nick-Papagiorgio's Opinion
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12/07/2020
This would require making a false assumption. That our government has ANY credibility with other countries. Additionally. We should check out the log in our own eye first: some states (Michigan and Massachusetts) still have laws against blasphemy.
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James 's Opinion
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12/07/2020
The pot calling the kettle black, how about the House passing a resolution to condemn itself. Stop trying to manage the rest of the world. Talk about narcissistic behavior!
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Tim's Opinion
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12/07/2020
Don’t involve the U.S. in the affairs of the rest of the world . We need to mind our own business. We have enough of our own problems to worry about.
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What is House Bill H. Res. 512?

This resolution would express the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. should call for the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws around the world through bilateral and multilateral diplomatic relationships.

To this end, this resolution calls on the President and the State Dept. to:

  • Call for the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws in U.S. bilateral relationships with other countries; 
  • Designate countries with blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws as countries of particular concern for religious freedom; and
  • Oppose the United Nations’ efforts to implement an international anti-blasphemy norm. 

Finally, it would call on the governments of countries with blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws to amend or repeal them and to release anyone imprisoned pursuant to such laws.

As a simple resolution, this legislation is non-binding and wouldn’t advance beyond the House if passed.

Impact

The State Dept.; the President; U.S. bilateral relationships with countries with blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws; persecuted religious groups around the world; and the United Nations.

Cost of House Bill H. Res. 512

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced this resolution to call for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws and the release of anyone imprisoned based on such laws:

“Theocratic and authoritarian governments across the world are punishing people under laws that crush religious freedom and liberty of conscience. These laws criminalizing ‘blasphemy,’ ‘heresy,’ ‘apostasy,’ ‘witchcraft,’ ‘sorcery,’ and all kinds of other imaginary religious offenses were wiped from the books of American law centuries and decades ago. There are people rotting in prison today in China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and dozens of other countries which use the law to oppress and harass people because of their religious faith and ideas. The freedoms to choose your religion or no religion at all and to worship and think freely are fundamental and non-negotiable. There can be no real ‘religious freedom’ for people if they are too afraid to go to church, to synagogue, to the mosque or to the library.”

After this resolution’s passage out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Raskin said:

“As oppressive regimes across the globe use arbitrary religious offenses such as ‘blasphemy’ and ‘heresy’ to imprison, torture, and kill religious minorities, it is critical that the United States defends freedom of religion and liberty of conscience everywhere. This Resolution is a small but important step in protecting the individual freedoms to choose your religion or no religion at all and to worship and think freely around the world.”

This bill was originally cosponsored by then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who has since become President Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff, added that protecting all people and their freedom of conscience is the right thing to do:

“As a Christian, I fundamentally believe that all people are created in the image of God. We must protect all people—religious and non-religious alike—and their freedom of conscience. This resolution is an important step to tell oppressive regimes across the globe that their use of arbitrary apostacy laws to imprison, torture, and kill religious minorities is unacceptable and must come to an end. I thank my colleague, Representative Raskin, for his bipartisan work on this issue."

International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian religious organization with the mission of “reliev[ing] the suffering of the worldwide persecuted church,” supports this resolution. In an August 2019 blog posts, ICC said:

“The spirit and content of all blasphemy laws stand in direct violation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… House Resolution 512 must be passed and supported by all of Congress… to ensure that United States sends a clear message to the world that it stands by human rights, religious freedom and all those oppressed by these archaic, barbaric and primitive laws that do not serve the interests of the any society as a whole. They are systematically used to discriminate [against] Christians and other religious minorities by the majority religion… The United States must lead the way in ensuring that these laws are made null and void.”

This resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of 42 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 28 Democrats and 14 Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), has eight bipartisan Senate cosponsors (including 7 Republicans and one Democrat) and has not yet received a committee vote

International Christian Concern (ICC) and the Secular Coalition for America support this resolution.


Of NoteBlasphemy laws punish expression or acts deemed blasphemous, defamatory of religions, or contemptuous of religion of religious symbols, figures, or feelings. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCIRF), over a third (over 70) of countries around the world not only keep blasphemy laws on their books, but also use these laws against religious minorities and dissenters. While many countries do not enforce their blasphemy laws, in those that do, punishments for blasphemy range from fines to imprisonment and even death.

In its 2019 annual report, UCIRF designated 16 countries as “countries of particular concern” (CPC) due to their severe suppression of religious freedom. The report detailed examples of religious persecution around the world, including:

  • The Chinese government’s increasing persecution of Muslims, Christians, Tibetans, and religious minority groups, including its detention of over 800,000 Uyghurs in internment camps and separation of Uygher families;
  • The Burmese government’s tolerance of “a pattern of persecution” against the Rohingya Muslim that the U.S. Secretary-General says amounts to “ethnic cleansing”;
  • The Iranian government’s treatment of the Baha’i community as heretics and imprisonment of over 70 Bahai’s due to their religious identity and beliefs; and
  • The Russian government’s banishment of Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group and seizure of properties owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / seechung)

AKA

Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.

Official Title

Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws, as amended

simple resolution Progress


  • The house Passed December 7th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 386 Yea / 3 Nay
    IntroducedJuly 23rd, 2019

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    Sounds like the Crusades all over again to me! Why are we dredging up the worst current and historical events (Crusades, Fatwas, Inquisition, McCathyism, Sharia Law, etc) to resurrect?
    Like (34)
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    This would require making a false assumption. That our government has ANY credibility with other countries. Additionally. We should check out the log in our own eye first: some states (Michigan and Massachusetts) still have laws against blasphemy.
    Like (22)
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    OK, I am all for keeping religious freedom for ALL religions. I do not think that religion should play a role in governance or in the execution of governmental processes. When someone says: ‘I am a Christian, therefore I need to condemn all of those who don’t believe as I do’, I have a problem. I am a Christian and I do not want my ability to practice my beliefs to be suppressed. I also do not want to see Muslims, Hindus, Native American or other religious beliefs suppressed. Everyone is entitled to practice their religious beliefs in their own way so long as they do not interfere with my ability to practice mine - so long as practicing my beliefs does not interfere with someone else’s ability to practice theirs. … … … I really think that our Supreme Court needs to be examined for their recent rulings that congregate settings for religious practices were more important than government’s right to impose reasonable limits on people practicing their congregate beliefs which threatens the very lives of others, the ‘non-believers’, and their own right to ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’. … … … Let’s start here and stop with the ‘holier-then-thou’ hypocrisy.
    Like (62)
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    Please! (Eye roll) Stop trying to straighten out the entire neighborhood when you have trouble in your own house. Here is an idea for legislation: Religious rights do NOT supersede citizens’ rights to health & safety!
    Like (37)
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    Although our country are more than occasional hypocrites on this topic, I do believe complying with the United Nations Humanitarian Rights are the direction that all should good to.
    Like (22)
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    We as a country have in the constitution freedom of religion? Yet we support discrimination of religious beliefs around the world and here in the USA? Sort of a double standard of discrimination, in religion by religionists leaders, which the religions groups push these law, to force there religious belief on others. Government used this position to control the people, we against them and the justification. Another reason why it’s one thing to believe in God, but it another to believe in religion that push their morality in the name of God, which government use to justify discriminate, jails and deaths. I do believe in god, just not man made religion, ran by men with political agendas to maintain greed, power and control. Religion have gave us wars, Crusades, dark ages, Spanish Inquisition, Isis, pedophiles, slavery, deaths and more all in the name of God. You have only three forms of control of the people, religious groups (dictatorship), corporations (dictatorship) and people (democracy), but all are called some form of a government.
    Like (21)
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    The pot calling the kettle black, how about the House passing a resolution to condemn itself. Stop trying to manage the rest of the world. Talk about narcissistic behavior!
    Like (19)
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    We supposedly have Freedom of Religion here......and there USED to be a Separation of church and State......The "separation" is being more and more eroded with each "conservative" that is put in places of governmental or judicial authority.......Unless the "laws" of certain religions break the laws of the land in which they live.....then, the government should have NO say in those religious "laws" but religious practices such as mutilation of genetalia in young women or say human sacrifice .....yes, the government should step in an uphold the law of the land......THAT is exactly why the "Christans" are trying to infiltrate our government......They want the Government and the people to kow tow to THEIR "beliefs". They want to tell us all how to live but, I bet they don't want to pay taxes!......they want to RUN the government with other people's money.
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    Don’t involve the U.S. in the affairs of the rest of the world . We need to mind our own business. We have enough of our own problems to worry about.
    Like (15)
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    No more RED HERRINGS! WE HAVE A PANDEMIC ON OUR HANDS! WE HAVE PEOPLE LOSING THEIR HOMES AND THEIR LIVELIHOOD! And we're supposed to worry about how other countries in the world worship or live? LAWMAKERS DO YOUR DAMN JOBS! Get help to the people IN OUR COUNTRY who are suffering from the fallout from this pandemic. Pass a relief bill. Push the vaccine. Stop playing stupid games and help. No we don't need to vote on a new holiday... or a street to be named after (fill in the blank). You are supposed to be our elected officials. DO SOMETHING RELEVANT!
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    Representatives, Support HR 512. Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws, as amended. It is admittedly a symbolic gesture, but the intent is benevolent, but it is somewhat undermined by the current morally bankrupt and incompetent administration. Thankfully many are getting over the naive notion that a government, even an elected government, truly speaks for all citizens. In fact, it seldom is the case. Once on the books, this law can be the basis for future sanctions. Countries that do not permit freedom of religion and imprison people for holding views outside a given country's "official" religion or state atheism is terrifying, and all civilized persons and countries should denounce such laws and limit dealings with such repressive regimes. Addendum: A Causes poster has stated that in the USA, some states still have Blasphemy Laws on the books. If this is true, those states must act to remove them immediately.
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    This is a tough one. Reads well and maybe at another time in our democracy could work ok. The way Blacks, Asians,Hispanics, American Indians, Muslims have been treated by our federal government and law enforcement these past 4 years would be total hypocrisy to tell other countries how to treat their citizens.
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    @JimK: Once again you are arguing that the Supreme Court should step out of line to accomodate what you think it should be rather than uphold their responsibility to interpret the Constitution. Many of Justices have expressed that they personnally do not agree with all the decisions they make, but it is not their resppnsibility to make laws. As mentioned recently, this is the responsibility of Congress. I am not arguing what you believe, either pro or con, but rather perhaps you should argue what is written in the Constitution. And as far as saying that the states should have the final say when it is a life threatening situation, I ask what states? Restrictions are different from state to state. Not to mention: If you truly believe that Covid-19 is so life threatening, why not argue against the states for allowing any public facility to be opened.
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    As an Atheist, the thought of being punished for my beliefs and lack thereof sounds barbaric. The secular community exists and it is growing every single day. We deserve respect from our government and being censored from free thought is very disrespectful. In the same regards, one could say that speaking against the "devil" would be blasphemy to the Satanists and that would make things very complicated in our society. Blasphemy laws don't just hurt the secular community, they affect all religious sects and political dissidents. Too often, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and other religious minorities are imprisoned, tortured, sentenced to death, and executed for blasphemy offenses. I hope that we can agree that ending global blasphemy laws is the responsible thing to do.
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    It would be a step forward in repairing our damaged reputation globally
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    I definitely believe we need to demand that leaders of a country, be they in the executive or legislative branches, have no business acting as religious police holding the guidelines of any religion up over another. And I believe that the members of our own government should start by not pushing their own religious viewpoints on the American people. Until they have taken the log out of their own eye, they have no business taking the splinter out of their neighbors.
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    Yes, but not alone. The United States should join with its allies all around the world to press for religious freedom and freedom from religion.
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    Stop these stupid waste of time resolutions. The standing of the USA has been severely damaged. This would only go to further anger countries it applies to and make diplomacy more difficult. Let’s worry about our own back yard as sharia law takes it hold here due to the Supreme Court being stacked against the constitution. If we get that right we can be an example. We have meddled in other country’s affairs for too long while neglecting our own inadequacies.
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    You are representatives of the U.S. so how about remembering that and refrain from legislating to the world?
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    The only problem with this is it says ‘GLOBAL’ Ha, we should have no say in what another country does. We have our own to challenges to tend to. Stop being a globalist and get shit straight here, I say. Why do we even look at another’s challenges and think🤔💭 “now how can we better THEIR society”? What kind of a mosey nitwit sits around thinking this way? Shame on you. You people who think that way probably had/have absolutely no real friends in life as you try to be controlling and justa flat out dick to others. Stick to our Local Gov’t, State, Country for that kinda stuff til it really affects us as a country. Then just maybe, just maybe we’ll come together building a nice society in our own land. Oh ya, and keep the religious twerps out of our Govt as we have a separation of church and state for a reason. Plus your imaginary friends and talking snakes gig is up and it’s a child’s game don’t you know?
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