Categories Users Search
Help
Sign Up Sign In
Q&A

Is it illegal if I use religious material in writing my novel?

3

I have a serious problem. I am going to start writing a novel and it contains material from another religion. Something like this: my book involves Moses vs Pharaoh. Moses is only a mentor and not the main character.

Now, is this illegal?

P.S = My book isn't actually about the above plot, but is similar but draws elements from another religion.

EDIT : I am writing a novel which includes a character called Ravana from the Hindu literary text called Ramayanaya( see Wikipedia article Ramayanaya ). Now, if I were to publish this, would I be framed by the law? I live in India where the Ramayanaya originated.

history · edit · permalink · close · delete · flag
Why should this post be closed?

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/49102. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

0 comments

4 answers

3

It may be illegal in some parts of the world if the material you're writing can be considered blasphemous or heretical. However in most of the world it would be perfectly fine. Pretty much all mainstream religious texts are old enough to be out of copyright or predate the concept of copyright altogether.

history · edit · permalink · delete · flag

0 comments

2

Some countries have blasphemy laws. Those blasphemy laws might be "protecting" all recognised religions in the country, or only the state religion. In some countries, like Iran, those blasphemy laws are routinely used to persecute minority religions (because they disagree with the state-sanctioned interpretation of Islam). In Iran, you might be hung for "insulting a prophet" (source).

This is not the case in democracies. Free speech protects you there. You might remember this image and article in The Onion, following the Charlie Hebdo shooting. So long as you don't actively incite to violence against one group or another, you're fine.

What the situation is in your country in this regard I do not know. You can search for blasphemy laws - now that you know the name of what you're looking for, shouldn't be hard to find it.

Now, the fact that what you're writing is legal does not mean everyone is going to like it. For example, the famous musical Jesus Christ Superstar was criticised by Christian and Jewish groups, banned in South Africa for being "irreligious", and in Hungary for being "religious propaganda" (source). But then, you can't please everyone. Don't worry about it.

history · edit · permalink · delete · flag

0 comments

0

If by "material from another religion" you mean direct quotations from their texts or scriptures (e.g. a Jehovah's Witnesses tract, or a recent Bible translation), then you'll need to be aware of copyright laws.

Large quotations might need explicit permission, while short paragraphs will be allowed if a proper citation is given.

If you are simply taking historical or mythological events and retelling them in your own words, don't worry about it. I doubt there were any copyright laws several thousand years ago, and even if there were, the content would have entered public domain by now.

If you are making significant changes to the events or characters, then you might need to be aware of blasphemy laws in whatever countries you are publishing in. Depicting a religious figure as anything but what they are known as could be a serious offence.

And even if you aren't planning on publishing in such countries, be aware of what happened when Salman Rushdie - Wikipedia published his infamous book.

history · edit · permalink · delete · flag

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/49107. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

0 comments

0

It's not illegal to use religion in books. It's not like God is going to sue you.

history · edit · permalink · delete · flag

0 comments