Atheist faces jail for leaving cartoons in prayer room

A 59-year-old philosophy tutor, whom the Liverpool Daily Post describes as a “militant atheist”, is currently on trial charged with three counts of religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress under the Crime and Disorder Act.

Stop Stop! We have run out of virgins: One of the cartoons left in the prayer room by Harry Taylor

Harry Taylor had left a series of cartoons in the multi-faith prayer room of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport on three occasions in 2008. When the airport chaplain, Nicky Lees, found them she was so alarmed that she phoned the police.

I was insulted, deeply offended and I was alarmed. I was so concerned that I rang the duty manager and the airport police. I was alarmed other people could come in and see these items and also feel offended and affronted and I was responsible for the prayer room.

Taylor said he was just practising his own religion of reason and rationality.

The airport is named after John Lennon and his views on religion were pretty much the same as mine. I thought that it was an insult to his memory to have a prayer room in the airport.

The cartoons he left included Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of “no nails” glue, drawing of the Pope with a condom on his finger, and a picture of a woman kneeling in front of a Catholic priest with the caption “No, no my child, blow is just a figure of speech”, A Dangerous Book For Boys with reference to the Qur’an, two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption “Not for women or gays, obviously”, a pig excreting sausages labelled “The Qu’ran”, and the Danish Motoon with the suicide bomber arriving in heaven (pictured).

The prosecutor had some weaselly freedom-of-speech-BUT words for the jury:

People have the right to insult people, it is a most important right in this country.

Freedom of speech is one of the most jealously-guarded rights, but it is not without prescription and the crown say he went beyond freedom of speech.

You as jurors are the conscience of our society. You must decide what you are prepared to put up with and what goes beyond reasonable bounds.

You are 12 tolerant British people and know what freedom of speech is all about.

I wouldn’t bet on it. Every one of the jurors swore on the Bible.

The fact that this case has gone to court is bad enough, but if Taylor gets prosecuted then it surely won’t be long before the Archangel Gabriel blows his horn and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come galloping down a street near you.

UPDATE: (4 March) He was found guilty by unanimous verdict. He will be sentenced on April 23rd.

10 Responses to “Atheist faces jail for leaving cartoons in prayer room”

  1. Stuart says:

    So “alarmed” that she called the police?

    It is astounding that such people can gather the courage to leave their house….

  2. James says:

    Freedom of speech is not absolute, although I probably wouldn’t have called the police. I’ve had hate-filled anti-Catholic literature thrust upon me by other Christians and have had to take it as part of living in a free society. The problem is when you protect one minority, say conscientious objectors or Gays, you effectively elevate them to a special status group. So other minorities want their status elevated in like manner.
    Here I think the man was not engaged in a free and frank exchange of ideas but he was furtively secreting abusive images. A jury of 12 agnostics, Catholics, nothings, whatever saw it that way anyway.

  3. alex says:

    These Christians have a cheek. I’m just reading about the wholsale abuse and murder of Indians in the US and Canada. The Cgristian churces were at the forefront of a 50% death rate for Indian children. This was coupled with forced sterilisation and obviously sexual abuse. All the Christian cults were involved not just the Catholics.

    This is a hidden history of shame. But will they be prosectued, of course not.

    They threaten us with torture if we don’t believe in their Gods. I am told I will suffer eternal torture if I refuse to believe in their God. How can they get away with threatening people into belief.

    If your God is LOVE why does he threaten to torture good people if they don’t believe in him. You can threaten me all you like but I will not bow to any God or man. Learn to think for yourselves, don’t believe what abusers tell you. Scaring children with fairy tales is abuse.

    I am an Atheist and proud to be able to reason for myself and not believe in superstitions from thousands of years ago.

    I’s great to see Catholics following their religion and calling for the persecution of unbelievers as they have done for centuries. Some things never change.

  4. alex says:

    Oh yeah what did Jesus say “turn the other cheek wasn’t it” and “judge not lest you be judged”.

    He also said “suffer the little children to come uto me”, this is now suffer the little children who come unto my priests.

    In the Church run institution in Canada were Indian children were imprisoned and tortured the mortality rate was 50% and higher. They practiced Eugenics.

    Christians they are just so full of Love. It’s funny I have not yet met a bigot or racist who didn’t believe in God.

  5. Matthew Ashenden says:

    “The lady doth protest too much!”

    There is a very good reason why these religious people get so upset. They know deep in their hearts (even if it’s just on a subconscious level) that what they believe in is about as real as Harry Potter. The more ridiculous the belief, the more extreme the reaction. Look at the most extreme reactions from religious groups… Muslims, Scientologists, Mormons etc. Now any sane person can see how mental the latter 2 of these are because they were made up by people in ‘recent’ history and the goals are quite overt! So all you have to do is translate them back a few thousand years and you can see how it applies to all ‘religions’!

  6. Lee Clark says:

    The more I think about this, the more upset it makes me. Basically, this guy left satirical cartoons in a public prayer room at an airport. The cartoons were as follows:

    “One image showed a smiling Christ on the cross next to an advert for a brand of “no nails” glue.

    In another, Islamic suicide bombers at the gates of paradise are told: ” Stop, stop, we’ve run out of virgins.” … See more

    A further cartoon showed two Muslims holding a placard demanding equality with the caption: “Not for women or gays, obviously.”

    I simply cannot believe, that In 2010, in the UK, this guy has [amazingly] been found guilty of a ridiculous version of an antiquated blasphemy law, and could go to jail for 7 years (the maximum sentence for this ‘crime’).

    He’s going to jail for satirical cartoons that pose less harm than anything you’ll find thrown at – for example; political figures in any daily tabloid. Not only that, but he’s going to jail for taking the piss out of people and figureheads from faiths believing in *nonexistent* mythological entities!

    Could I go to jail for posting my views here?! Jesus Christ!!!!!!!

  7. Debbie edwards says:

    is there anything that we can do 2 help? We cant just let this happen. This law is ridiculous. Get a grip lady.

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  9. You may find our article in the current issue of The Jury Expert of interest. It’s focused on American bias against atheists and why it’s important to pay attention to the issue of religious belief or non-belief in litigation. See it here:

    Rita Handrich, Editor
    The Jury Expert