A court in Poland has thankfully acquitted three women who had been arrested for blasphemy… all for hanging up posters depicting the Virgin Mary… with a rainbow halo on her head. They made a religious icon look good — something the Catholic Church struggles with — and for that, they were being treated like heretics.
Elżbieta Podleśna, Anna Prus, and Joanna Gzyra-Iskandar Podleśna faced up to two years in prison. But the court said that because their actions were centered around defending LGBTQ people and not offending religious sensibilities, they were not guilty of any crime.
This is very upsetting to the religious zealots who believe their faith — and only their faith — deserves immunity from criticism. (Or, in this case, rainbows.)
The conservative group that brought the case, the Life and Family Foundation, said it planned to appeal.
“Defending the honor of the Mother of God is the responsibility of each of us, and the guilt of the accused is indisputable,” the group’s founder, Kaja Godek, said on Facebook. “The courts of the Republic of Poland should protect (Catholics) from violence, including by LGBT activists.”
Remember that when the women were arrested, Polish politician Jarosław Kaczyński also said the rainbow images were a “direct attack on the family and children.”
That sort of religious extremism is routine in Poland, where the Church has outsized influence.
While the ruling was a welcome one, it’s not exactly a cause for celebration. The decision suggests that the women would have gone to jail had their actions been primarily interpreted as “offending” people of faith. That shouldn’t be a crime either. Blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder. Just last week, a Polish singer was in the news for stepping on a picture of the Virgin Mary. He didn’t hurt anyone either.
So this court decision is good news, sure, but it’s also a reminder that blasphemy allegations remain a potent weapon against critics of bad ideas in Poland.
(Thanks to Ed and Rick for the link)