Are we really living in a time of tolerance?

BLASPHEMY: The way that the beliefs of others are continually mocked in popular culture is concerning. Picture: Shutterstock
BLASPHEMY: The way that the beliefs of others are continually mocked in popular culture is concerning. Picture: Shutterstock

The most-watched show on Netflix here in Australia is a TV series called Lucifer, a show that portrays the devil as someone good who helps the authorities to solve murders.

It also portrays St Michael the Archangel as nefarious and manipulative of even God.

The show has held the no. 1 spot in our country for the last three weeks.

The first time in my life I can remember being confronted with television deemed religiously offensive, even blasphemous, was back in the 90s when Irish singer Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope.

I forever come across people who share the view expressed on a free legal advice website ... if legal advice can ever be "free".

The website claims blasphemy is a blanket term used against a person holding the opposite worldview and merely depends on someone's point of view.

It uses the example of an Australian making a negative comment about an Australian athlete at an upcoming Olympic games.

The term "blasphemy" has been so unused within religion, and bandied around so much outside it, that it has lost a lot of its meaning.

By this thinking, perhaps some do not construe O'Connor's photo-ripping as blasphemous.

However, they might of the claim in her recent memoir Remembering that the late American singer-songwriter Prince physically assaulted her - especially now that Prince is unable to defend the allegation.

Perhaps the doctors considered it blasphemy that one of Prince's last actions was to check himself out of the hospital against their will.

Perhaps civil libertarians consider it blasphemy the doctors tried to make Prince stay in hospital against his will. And on and on and on.

It is indeed an awkward topic. And yet, although they are unable to articulate it, even a child knows what blasphemy is - the misusing through action or speech of the things of God.

People who are not religious are incapable of understanding the agony we who are religious go through when we are subjected to blasphemy.

Many Christians - myself included - would rather hear any and all of the world's profanities before hearing the name of Jesus used as a swear word.

No one in history has been as effective as Jesus in teaching forgiveness, even of enemies, and for taking away the sins of the world.

And yet, even Jesus taught that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a wrong that cannot be forgiven.

The use of Jesus's name as a swear word is everywhere on television, and I and many others cringe every time we hear it. Imagine how you would feel if your loved one's name became an expletive.

The use of the acronym "OMG" is now ubiquitous among teenagers and many others who care nothing for God.

Why do people who claim they do not believe in God, and are even opposed to the very idea of God, use his name in vain? It is a paradox.

It makes me wonder whether we really are in a time of diversity and tolerance.

Earlier this year, when American rapper Lil Nas X released his "Satan shoes" complete with pentagram and a drop of human blood, the only significant opposition he received was from Nike because the customised shoes were based on its Air Max 97s.

The so-called "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" have mocked religion at the Sydney Mardi Gras for more than 30 years and organisers have never once addressed this ongoing hate speech.

Even Fox Sports has jumped on the wagon now with its latest commercial using the "Creation of Adam" fresco by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel as an image for cheap laughs.

If the wave of mocking religious beliefs is an attempt to make people chill out about religion, experience has taught us that it ends up doing the exact opposite.

Nothing in this world drives a fanatic from 0 to 100 faster than blasphemy.

To disagree with the beliefs of others is freedom. To mock the beliefs of others is discrimination.

Twitter: @frbrendanelee

This story Midweek Musings | Are we really living in a time of tolerance? first appeared on The Canberra Times.