The Amherst, N.Y.-based
Center for Inquiry (CFI) has changed the name of its International Blasphemy
Day to International Blasphemy Rights Day in a bid to show that organizers are
not interested in “mocking religion” for its own sake.
said the name change better describes the purpose of the event amidst criticism
received after last year’s inaugural events.
“There was a lot of
controversy last year that we were doing what we were doing simply in the
interest of mocking religion,” said CFI Spokesman Nathan Bupp. “That, indeed,
is not the case.”
CFI bills itself as “an
institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and
International Blasphemy Rights Day is part of a larger, national campaign by CFI for freedom of
The name change is
meant to “emphasize the important connection that we think there is between
blasphemy and the right to free speech,” said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO
Lindsay said some
critics “interpreted blasphemy in its crudest form” but “blasphemy is a wider
concept than that.”
Although many people
scoffed at last year’s campaign, he said, the center believes religion is not,
and should not be, immune from criticism.
should be on the same level of political beliefs,” Lindsay said.
This year’s events are
scheduled for Sept. 30, the fifth anniversary of the publication of 12 cartoons
of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. It will also come about
three weeks after a church in Gainesville, Fla., is scheduled to hosts its
inaugural “Burn a Quran
Although Lindsay said
he would “defend the right of individuals to engage in an event like that,” he
personally thinks it is “an inappropriate event.”
“We would certainly not
condone the burning of the Quran. In fact, we believe it should be studied
Lindsay emphasized that
CFI’s goal is to criticize the belief, not the believer. “Blasphemy is often,
unfortunately, associated with crude criticism of believers. But our focus is
on looking at the beliefs,” he said.