The Italian attack on Christ is offensive

By Laura Hamilton

The United States is waging a stealth war against religion—Christianity, to be specific—comprising a handful of court battles and the quiet replacement of “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” Most people are mildly amused rather than worried or insulted.

But Italy has taken the fight to a new level.

According to a January 4 Reuters article “Did Jesus Exist? Italian Court to Decide,” an Italian court is considering whether the Roman Catholic Church has violated Italian law by teaching about Jesus. Reuters quoted the atheist plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, as saying, “The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala.” Cascioli claims that his book The Fable of Christ conclusively proves that the Jesus Christ described by the Roman Catholic Church did not, in fact, exist. Cascioli says it is up to the Church to prove his existence in court. Enrico Righi, a priest, has apparently been chosen to represent the Roman Catholic Church for this court battle; at any rate, Righi is the defendant.

Righi has been accused—though not yet indicted—of breaking two Italian laws: Sostituzione di Persona (impersonation) and Abuso di Credulita Popolare (abuse of public belief). The judge, Gaetano Mautone, had previously refused to hear the case, but he was forced to set a date for a preliminary hearing after the Court of Appeals overruled him.

This court battle is symptomatic of a number of highly disturbing trends in the United States. It could easily happen here.

After all, Italy is hardly a country very hostile to Roman Catholicism.

Radical political factions who lack popular support—in other words, liberals—are increasingly turning to the courts to enact their radical agenda, and radical activist judges intoxicated by their own power are increasingly willing to legislate from the bench. Journalists and American intelligentsia are becoming increasingly contemptuous of and hostile toward religion in general and Christianity in particular, and have already begun to attack it in the courts. The intelligentsia is becoming increasingly tolerant of people with whom it disagrees, and many, including Cascioli, feel they are entitled to the defeat of opposing ideas. Listen to his language: “I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression.”

Can you imagine the furor if the Pope declared he wanted to “deal a blow” against atheists?

If the Italian court ultimately rules that Jesus Christ did not exist, it will be quite a surprise for the world’s 2.1 billion Christians, including thousands of clergy members of various sects who will be upset to learn they are guilty of fraud and impersonation. (The author hopes these clergy members will be protected from Italian ex post facto trials.) In addition, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, who assert Jesus’ existence, though not his divinity, may have to modify their teachings to avoid prosecution. Hard to say. This trial is unprecedented.

In the United States we have a Constitution to protect our religious freedoms from such an onslaught, but they are being quickly eroded by arrogant activist judges brandishing “common sense” and the ninth amendment.

Our freedoms are not safe.