“Whoever offends the religious feelings of others by publicly insulting a religious object or a place dedicated to public exercise of a religious rite is subject to a fine, penalty of restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to two years.” This is the current wording of the Penal Code, which allows prosecuting of people who’s critical attitude towards religion has crossed the imaginary line of ‘offending the religious feelings’ of – in theory member of any church, in practice of the Catholic fundamentalists.
The law is actively used by radical Christian circles in Poland for creeping enforcement of a sort of Catholic sharia order. Every once in a while a public person is prosecuted for expressing an opinion that some fundamentalists activists find offensive. One of the recent examples was the pop-singer Dorota Rabczewska, officially fined for offending religious feelings by stating that to her mind the authors of the Holy Bible must have been “stoned smoked and had drunk too much wine”. After a long appeal process the case landed even on the desk of the Constitutional Tribunal which ruled that the court verdict of 5,000 PLN (c.a. 1,300 USD) fine remains in full accordance with the Polish constitution.
Now this kind which hunt is going to be probably made easier. The case was raised in a parliamentary appeal to the justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro. It has been submitted by the MP Dominik Tarczyński – a colorful personality. Before the last general election he was a journalist of the notorious „Gazeta Polska“ – a platform now fervently supporting the government and the MSM-spiritus-movens of the ‘Smolensk assassination’ conspiracy theory. Tarczyński made himself famous also by assisting a team of British exorcists with their performances in Poland a couple of years ago as well as by co-organizing the Polish visit of John Bashobora, a Christian ‘miracle-maker’ who met with thousands of people in the National Stadium in Warsaw to ‘help them cure’. Tarczyński was also among the organizers of an infamous pilgrimage to Lebanon, which the Polish edition of „Newsweek“ claimed was a major money laundering scheme. These are just a few elements of his record before he become a parliamentarian. Right after he had won a seat in the Polish Sejm he made the headlines again by Twitting to Lech Wałęsa (the first Polish democratically elected president after 1989) – “Wanna fight, you son of a bitch?”.
Tarczyński does not want us to forget about him. Quite rightly sensing the political climate, Tarczyński asked Ziobro to “consider the possibility of exacerbating the criminal law in terms of prosecuting acts of religious feelings offense.” He explained he was inspipred to turn to the Ministry of Justice because of “drastically increasing frequency of such acts.” As an example he pointed the so called Black Protest (against a complete abortion ban then proceeded in the parliament) organized a couple of months ago mainly by activists of the social-democratic Razem party. This proves beyond any doubt that the intention is to format the the Penal Code in this aspect in a way that it can be used as a leverage to chase and prosecute oppositional organizations and figures.
„Not by accident am I referring to questions related with the Catholic Church. We are a country of great and wonderful moral pattern and example established by St. Pope John Paul II. The history, culture and vastness of the tradition of the Polish nation for over 1,000 years are closely linked to the belief in God the Father Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ” added Tarczyński in his explanation attached to the parliamentary appeal.