Christ on trial
I consider myself to be somewhat advanced in my understanding of religion, especially when it comes to Christianity, but I never knew that there were laws in Italy that forbade asserting the Jesus Christ ever existed. The notion that the home of the Roman Catholic church would have laws on the books seems about as likely as having a Chinese law that forbids human rights violations. Nevertheless, there is, and someone is finally going to trial for breaking that law:
    An Italian judge heard arguments Friday on whether a small-town parish priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed.The priest's atheist accuser, Luigi Cascioli, says the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed, and that the Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws by reasserting the claim...
I don't know if I would go so far as to entertain the notion that Jesus didn't exist as a person, but I would love to see what evidence was produced. Certainly, I don't continue to entertain the notion that he was (if he existed, even) that he was any sort of god or personification of any god. Beyond the simple question of existence, Cascioli's attorney suggested that this could lead to a civil trial (at least in this country):
    "The point is not to establish whether Jesus existed or not, but if there is a question of possible fraud," Cascioli's attorney, Mauro Fonzo, told reporters before the hearing. Cascioli says the church has been gaining financially by "impersonating" as Christ someone by the name of John of Gamala, the son of Judas from Gamala. He has said he has little hope of the case succeeding in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Italy, but that he is merely going through the necessary legal steps to reach the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to accuse the church of what he calls "religious racism."
That is bringing the heavy bat to play. Could there be a Class Action suit against the Catholic (and by implication, any Christian church) for fraud? That is something for the fiction writer (hmm...) to contemplatete. This is a case where the defendant will win, whether it is the atheist on trial or the church, because no court is going to validate the burden of proof for the prosecution. It would be the equivalent of a Miracle on 34th Street trial, only not quite as charming or harmless. Is this a sequel to the Scopes Monkey trial? Hopefully not, for all that did was increase a fundamentalist response equivalent to a person putting their hands over their ears and talking so they can't hear [the truth]. With a resurgence of God-fearing politicians beating this drum, this trial could inadvertently become a lightning-rod for new converts to the lie.

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