Judaism on Defamation of Religion

As longtime victims of persecution throughout much of history, Jews are generally sensitive to the defamation of their religion by outsiders, and many rabbis—particularly within Orthodox Judaism—keenly review the work of their peers for possible blasphemous teachings. Though prosecution is rarely if ever sought, when notable individuals express anti-Semitic sentiments, Jewish activist groups often seek to mobilize public opinion against such utterances. Israel—the world’s only Jewish-majority state—has laws against the defamation of any religion. Orthodox Jews are fairly active in combating views they deem heretical, with rabbis occasionally banning books that Orthodox Jews may otherwise be likely to read and excommunicating rabbis whose teachings stray too far from Orthodox tradition; these prohibitions are not heeded by non-Orthodox Jews. Indeed, the Hebrew Bible contains proscriptions against blasphemy and the defamation of religion in the Ten Commandments, forbidding idolatry along with a direct limitation on free expression to not take the name of God in vain.
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