Most people are probably aware that all state legislatures have codified at least some of the Ten Commandments. For example, it is illegal to murder, commit adultery (probably in most states), steal, and may be required in some states to keep the Sabbath (i.e. blue laws). This post is to put all on notice that are living in or traveling through the Great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The law has, since 1620 CE, continued to codify the third commandment, blasphemy. Chapter 272, section 36, of the General Laws reads:

“Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.”

Any thoughts on the policy behind this law, and do you think it is this a good or bad law, and why?* And second, do you think this law is constitutional?** My own opinion is that this is a good law. What you’re for blasphemy? Also, in my opinion, there is no question that the law is completely constitutional.

In any event, when in Massachusetts, please, no blasphemy.





*There were two bills in the Massachusetts legislature this last session, House Bill Nos. 1343 &1725, designed to repeal this law. Both died in committee.

**The Massachusetts Supreme Court last looked at this law in 1838, and found it constitutional. See Commonwealth v. Kneeland, 37 Mass. (20 Pick.) 206 (1838).