All Americans owe much to Thomas Jefferson for championing the cause of separation of church and state. He coined the now-famous phrase in his 1802 letter to Danbury Baptist Association:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.As we decry violence purportedly in response to a stupid movie perceived as an intolerable insult to their Prophet, let's not overlook that in Greece, "blashphemy" against the church is punishable under the law:
Three articles of the Greek Penal Code punishes whoever “by any means blasphemes God.” Article 199 states that “who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church” shall be punished “by imprisonment for not more than two years.” In 2003, an Austrian writer, Gerhard Haderer, was prosecuted for his book The Life of Jesus, which reportedly portrayed Jesus as a hippie. He was acquitted in 2005. The Greek Orthodox Church is the official state church for Greece.A 12-year old man has now been arrested for "blaspheming" a dead monk. Hopefully his self-evident right to express himself will prevail.
The belief by some religious people, and of some religious institutions, that they are entitled to an absence of having their beliefs offended is the cause of much human misery and maltreatment.
Religious beliefs are protected, but imposing them, or respect for them on others must not be.