“No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised,” writes philosophy professor Austin Dacey in his insightful book The Future of Blasphemy: Speaking of the Sacred in the Age of Human Rights (Continuum). 

Dacey, who represents the International Humanist and Ethical Union at the United Nations, notes that blasphemy, once a sin against God, has been transformed into a crime against believers’ sensibilities. His disturbing analysis traces how various U.N. resolutions demanding “respect” for religions, as well as court decisions and laws in many European countries, traduce freedom by punishing people for offending believers.

Dacey persuasively argues that “the onus is on the agents of civil society—nongovernmental organizations, journalists, academics, educators, individual citizens—to demand that states and international bodies stand up for the free exercise of conscience even when it defiles the sacred.” —Ronald Bailey