Time to abolish blasphemous libel offence

England has abolished the ancient common law offence of blasphemous libel, but the crime remains on the books in Canada. Until the offence fell into disuse in the 1920s, anyone who made “contemptuous,” “reviling,” or “scurrilous” statements about God, Jesus Christ or the Church of England could be prosecuted, although Canada’s Criminal Code exempts statements made in “good faith and conveyed in decent language.” Jeremy Patrick, a doctoral student at Osgoode Hall Law School, argues it’s time for Parliament to abolish the offence in a July 2008 commentary published in the Toronto Star.