Bible-belt town bans blasphemy

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The name of the Lord may no longer be taken in vain in the Dutch village of Staphorst.

Staphorst, in the so-called Dutch “bible belt” of eastern towns where religion holds sway, approved a ban on swearing by 13-4 council votes.

But the caveat that swearing is not banned when it is an expression of the constitutional freedom of speech may make it difficult to punish offenders.

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“A ban on swearing can be seen as a signal,” the council’s proposal said, adding a change in moral values was needed to address the underlying problem.

Past swearing bans in bible-belt villages were declared in violation of the right to free expression in 1986. One other town has such a ban — Reimerswaal, in the southwestern province of Zeeland.

The Dutch association against swearing, which runs national billboard campaigns to admonish the bad-mouthed Dutch, says the Bible outlaws swearing.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” it quotes Exodus 20:7.

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June 2, 2005
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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 3, 2005.
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