Freedom of Religion

Louis Smith is threatened and suspended for mocking Islam, and Theresa May preaches tolerance, balance and responsibility

This wasn’t the first time that four-time Olympic medallist Louis Smith had been rebuked by his professional association British Gymnastics for breaching their Standards of Conduct. So when a video surfaced in which he was judged to be mocking Islam, it was determined that “a cumulative penalty was appropriate“, and this came in the form of a two-month suspension. No doubt British Gymnastics believes that Louis Smith is bringing his profession into disrepute by shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and sniggering while his mate adopts the sajdha position and performs half a rakat. Louis Smith is an inspiration and role model to many thousands of people, young and old: what he says resonates; what he does influences. If Louis Smith MBE had mocked Our Glorious Dead by breaking wind over a wreath of poppies while singing ‘God Save The Queen’, British Gymnastics would also have moved to suspend as a “cumulative penalty”. He represents his country on the world stage: he has been appointed MBE for his athletic prowess. If he offends a constituency, that becomes the business of his professional body because it reflects badly on many, if not all. Immature actions have grown-up consequences.

This isn’t about Louis Smith’s freedom to mock Islam, but our collective prostration to the censorious cult of tolerance by which all public utterances are now subsumed to a new code of blasphemy and enforced respect which increasingly shields Allah, Mohammed, the Qur’an and mosques more than the names of Jesus and YHWH or the Bible and Church. It is ironic that Parliament, having legislated to abolish the crimes of blasphemy and blasphemous libel as they related to Christianity, is filling the vacuum with tolerance and respect for all things Islamic while turning a blind eye to those Muslims who threaten murder and called for Jihad against the apostate and the infidel.

Louis Smith was pilloried by Loose Women and apologised profusely. He disclosed that he’d received death threats, but they passed over that without smudging their lipstick. Instead, the self-righteous inquisition went on and on about his ‘racism’, shame and responsibility. His apology was good enough for some Muslims, who didn’t want him suspended, but not for the Muslim Council of Britain, who said it was no apology at all. They, too, uttered not a word about the death threats he’s received.

Enter Charles Walker MP, who made an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister during PMQs yesterday:

When people make fun of Christianity in this country, it rightly turns the other cheek. When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun of another religion widely practised in this country, he is hounded on Twitter and by the media and suspended by his association. For goodness’ sake, this man received death threats, and we have all looked the other way. My question to the Prime Minister is this: what is going on in this country, because I no longer understand the rules?

To which Theresa May responded:

I understand the level of concern that my hon. Friend has raised in relation to this matter. There is a balance that we need to find. We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country—that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy—but we also value tolerance of others and tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government have produced. Yes, it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but that right has a responsibility too, which is the responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance of others.

This is not remotely adequate. There is no ‘balance’ to find between freedom of expression and ‘tolerance’ in relation to religions. All gods, prophets, sacred beliefs and holy books must be subject to criticism, scorn, mockery and defamation. If they are not, we coerce the unbeliever to tolerate the intolerable; to respect that which is unworthy of respect because its precepts are repugnant, its prophets are false and its god is a myth.

Freedom of expression and freedom of speech are the philosophical progeny of freedom of religion. Where there is freedom of religion, there must be freedom from religion. When our mainstream media and political leaders demand obeisance to “tolerance in relation to religions” – meaning, of course, to one religion in particular – we must necessarily subsume the freedoms of speech and expression to the new sharia blasphemy code, which you breach it at your peril.