Christianity on Defamation of Religion

Though the tradition’s attitude toward blasphemy has eased over the past century, Christianity has a long history of restricting speech that defames the faith. Perhaps the most notable example of this is the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, the “List of Prohibited Books” maintained by the Roman Catholic Church from 1559 until 1966; the Index at various times included works by scientists like Nicolaus Copernicus, philosophers like Immanuel Kant, theologians like Desiderius Erasmus, Catholic mystics, and many others whose views were contrary to Church teachings. Because Christianity is prevalent in the West, where most governments are largely secular and emphasize the importance of free speech, Christians have generally accepted that they will be exposed to ideas that directly criticize and often oppose their beliefs. However, individual pastors, particularly among conservative Protestant denominations, will occasionally tell their congregants not to read certain books they find offensive, for example, the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code.