Atheist accuses priest of illegally saying Jesus existed

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The Independent Online

Opening arguments were set to begin today in the case of an Italian priest who was accused by an atheist of breaking two Italian laws by asserting that Jesus Christ existed.

Lawyers for the prelate, the Rev. Enrico Righi, and his accuser, Luigi Cascioli, headed into the close-door hearing in the courtroom in Viterbo, north of Rome, to learn whether the judge would dismiss the case or order Righi to stand trial.

Cascioli filed a criminal complaint against his old schoolmate Righi in 2002 after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli claims that Righi violated two Italian laws by making the assertion: so-called "abuse of popular belief" in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation" in which someone gains by attributing a false name to someone.