A blasphemy is a saying that offends or outrages a being or something sacred. The concept comes from the Latin term blasphemĭa, which in turn derives from the Greek blasphēmía.
Before moving on to the blasphemy, therefore, we must focus on the idea of sacred. The sacred is that which has a link with a divinity and which is the object of worship and veneration. An image of Jesus Christ or a bible are sacred objects for Christianity, for example.
When a person verbally attacks these sacred elements, he utters a blasphemy. The same happens when you directly attack a divinity or make fun of it. In many countries there are laws that punish blasphemies since they are considered as aggressions against God or against the gods.
Blasphemies often arise from an irreverence towards objects, characters or rites related to religion. The individual may not even mean to offend believers, but his words still provoke a negative feeling.
There are theocracies that punish those who express blasphemies with the death penalty. In other nations, on the other hand, freedom of expression is privileged and there are no regulations that punish blasphemies.
In various Western cultures there is the idea that religion belongs, along with politics and sports, to a group of topics that should not be addressed in a conversation with people outside the inner circle. One of the reasons why this can be good advice is that, beyond the offenses that our opinions can cause in the other, they can also lead to professional problems or even enmities that lead to aggressive responses.
If we are talking with someone we do not know in depth, it is recommended not to talk about any of these three topics in depth, especially religion, since we never know if our next comment may hurt the feelings of the other. Blasphemy may seem unforgivable to some, but it often arises as a mere opinion on the part of those who do not believe in the existence of God, with no intention of offending anyone.
Let’s look at it from another perspective. In Japan, the elderly receive a level of respect that is not normal in the West; They are generally regarded as very wise people and treated with great affection. If we refer to the different art forms of this country, we will rarely find a mockery of the elderly, unless it is in an affectionate tone or referring to the personality of a particular elderly person. Needless to say, this is not the case in most Western countries, but the treatment of the elderly could well be described as blasphemy.
Westerners are used to complaining about the elderly, to criticizing their customs, such as the fact that they get up very early and obstruct the counters of pharmacies and banks; around here it is normal for comedies to mock senility and apology for geriatrics. If the elders were gods, surely all these ideas would be considered blasphemies. And here comes the question whose answer that can lead us to a better coexistence: what do we gain by attacking what others believe in?
When in 1988 he published his book “The Satanic Verses”, the writer Salman Rushdie was accused of blasphemy. Ayatollah Ruhollan Khomeini, in this framework, ordered through a religious edict that Rushdie be executed for offending Islam. Since then, the author has been in custody as he receives death threats from religious fanatics who consider that his work contains blasphemies.