Thursday, January 05, 2006

Habeas Christus

Things are about to get interesting in an Italian courtroom, where a local priest will be forced to prove that Jesus Christ actually existed. Father Enrico Righi must accomplish that feat because an Italian atheist and apparent muckraker (and I say that in the most positive way!) has filed criminal charges against Righi for "abuse of popular credulity" and "impersonation." Luigi Cascioli wrote a book called The Fable of Christ in which he argues, not surprisingly, that Jesus never existed and is a fiction created for the gospels. Father Righi took exception to that claim, as one might expect, and denounced Cascioli's work in the parish newsletter.

While part of me is interested to see how this turns out, am I the only one who is flummoxed that "abuse of popular credulity," based on statements in a parish newsletter no less, is a criminal offense in Italy? Or anywhere, for that matter?

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