JUDGE: Blasphemy Is Constitutionally Protected


[Illustration by BEN HEINE]

ASSOCIATED PRESS: A Pennsylvania law banning blasphemous or profane words from the names of corporations is unconstitutional because state employees who apply it must base their decisions on their own religious beliefs, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson in Philadelphia issued a summary judgment Wednesday in favor of an independent filmmaker who sued over state officials’ rejection of his application to name his company “I Choose Hell Productions, LLC.” Baylson said the 1977 law barring the use of “words that constitute blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane the Lord’s name” violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and protections against laws that promote any religion. The blasphemy law was passed after an outcry from some churches over the incorporation of a McKeesport businessman’s gun store as “The God D— Gun Shop,” according to Baylson’s ruling. Officials in the Pennsylvania State Department, which oversees the bureau, were conferring with lawyers yesterday about the prospect of an appeal, said department spokesman Charlie Young. Plaintiff George Kalman said the name that was rejected in October 2007 was not a reference to religion. Rather, he said it was based on his philosophy that, “Even if life is hell, it is better to choose hell than suicide.” MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *