by Steven Groves
The Heritage Foundation
November 12, 2008
Backgrounder
For the past several years, the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly have adopted resolutions recognizing and promoting the concept of “defamation of religions.” Proponents seek to establish an international ban on any speech that would insult, criticize, offend, or disparage any person’s religion. Specifically, the Organization of the Islamic Conference has suggested that national legislatures pass laws to ensure protection against “defamation of religions.” Such a ban, however, could not withstand legal scrutiny in the United States. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech and expression, even when speech is offensive or insulting. Moreover, a religious “speech code” would disrupt the assimilation of religious minorities that has occurred throughout U.S. history and could breed resentment rather than understanding among America’s religious communities.



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