‘The God Who Wasn’t There’ – incitement to religious hatred?
Cranmer has seen this film advertised on a number of websites. It boasts:
'Bowling for Columbine' did it to the gun culture.
'Super Size Me' did it to fast food.
Now 'The God Who Wasn't There' does it to religion.
The documentary 'irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed'. Apparently, viewers will discover:
1) The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus
2) The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults
3) Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion
4) Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes
The makers do not say precisely how viewers will 'discover' these things, but Cranmer is quite certain it shall not be by burning bush or stone tablet. Assertions 1, 2 a 4 are nothing new; they imperil not one jot or tittle of the New Testament revelation. Anyone with the most cursory knowledge of the early ecumenical councils will know of the fierce debates which took place on the humanity and divinity of Christ: the Creeds of the Church did not come from nowhere. And assertion 3 is wholly accurate; this film is merely a further embodiment of that very ignorance.
The God Who Wasn't There apparently 'pulls no punches', and presents an abundance of 'proof' from sundry atheists including Richard Dawkins. These amount to no punches at all. The film is directed by 'award-winning filmmaker (and former Christian) Brian Flemming'. It is good that Mr Flemming won the egg and spoon race while he was at school, but there is no indication of him having ever won anything remotely credible in the world of cinematography.
But the Los Angeles Times says the film is 'provocative - to put it mildly'.
So Cranmer would like to know if this falls foul of the UN's resultion to protect religions from defamation. Surely such a resolution cannot only apply to Islam?
The language of the resolution is expressed in diplomatic fog, but the intent is perfectly clear. It speaks of recognising 'the valuable contribution of all religions to modern civilization and the contribution that dialogue among civilisations can make towards improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind'. The resolution then goes on to express concern 'that defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights'. It talks of being 'alarmed at the inaction of some States to combat this burgeoning trend and the resulting discriminatory practices against adherents of certain religions and in this context stressing the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular'.
So if 'The God Who Wasn't There' does not fall foul of this resolution, would a documentary which critically examines the foundations of Islam? If such a film were to be made which expounds Islam's origins in pagan moon worship, and critiques the life and claims of Mohammed, would the UN judge it to be 'defamation' and an incitement to 'religious hatred'? Would one be permitted to advertise it with impunity?