"The judge will decide if Christ exists or not."
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When Father Enrico Righi said, "the judge will decide if Christ exists or not," he didn't mean the "Almighty Judge," i.e. God. He meant Italian judge Gaetano Mautone.
An atheist activist, Luigi Cascioli, has actually filed suit against a Roman Catholic priest for allegedly lying to people about the existence of Jesus, and breaking Italian laws that prohibit "abuse of popular belief" and impersonation.
The Times reports that:
"Signor Cascioli's contention -- echoed in numerous atheist books and internet sites -- is that there was no reliable evidence that Jesus lived and died in 1st-century Palestine apart from the Gospel accounts, which Christians took on faith. There is therefore no basis for Christianity, he claims."
All that means that it's up to the defendant, Father Enrico Righi, to refute Cascioli's claim, outlined in his book "The Fable of Christ," that Christians got it all wrong. Cascoli claims that the story of Jesus was based on the life of John of Gamala, a 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.
One commenter on Internet Infidels worries that: "In accordance with this lawsuit, every religion could be sued by every other religion for teaching false doctrine, since just about every religion claims to have "the truth".
Perhaps that's next, in the litigious land of America.
Maria Luisa Tucker is a staff writer at AlterNet and associate editor of the Columbia Journal of American Studies.