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Meditation 431
Fighting Belief in Court

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An Italian atheist, Luigi Cascioli, is suing a Catholic priest, Father Enrico Righi, claiming that by teaching the existence of Christ, two Italian laws are being broken. One is a law to prevent people being swindled or conned, and the other is a law against impersonation.

Cascioli is the author of a book, The Fable of Christ, in which he claims he has proven that Jesus did not exist, but rather was constructed by the early church based on John of Gamala.

What is the point of this lawsuit? Let us be realistic. There is absolutely no chance that an Italian court is going to rule that Jesus Christ did not exist. At best, the judge will find a way to throw the court case out without making a legal judgement on Jesus's existence. Alternatively, there might be a legal finding that Jesus really did exist - which could only bring joy into the hearts of believers.

There is no possible upside to this court case for non-believers.

It is quite reasonable to use the courts, if necessary, to determine whether or not something like "Intelligent Design" is science or religion in order to prevent this religious doctrine being taught as fact in a science class. But to challenge the central tenets of a church's faith in order to prevent that religion being taught to its followers - that has no place in a free society. We may legitimately fight the implications of that religion being imposed upon the rest of us. But let's not be so foolish to mount a legal challenge to the existence of the religion itself.