Thank God I'm an atheist
First comment (anonymous): "I'm thankful that some common sense seems to have leaked in."
We all have cause to be thankful. It was on the cards that we could have had to deal with an extension of the current law of blasphemy (which in England applies only to the official state religion in the UK, i.e., the Anglican Church) to other religions, which would have stifled freedom of speech to an unimaginable extent.
Recall that Mary Whitehouse dug out a 14th Century law against "blasphemous libel" to obtain an injunction against a poem by James Fenton (? - not sure of the author's name) which she found offensive to Christian (i.e., her) beliefs. I think the poem used the conceit (a literary term meaning an extended metaphor) of a homosexual fantasy by the centurion guarding the crucified Jesus, however I can't state this with certainty, since I am not allowed to read the poem thanks to Whitehouse's very successful suppression of it.
I guess that there are other little gems of medieval legislation which could still bite us.
Second comment (also anonymous): "On official forms under "religion" I put atheist; making it a religion in itself (albeit the "anti-religion")."
So why don't you just put "None", like I do? ("Atheism" is NOT a "religion": it is a rational refusal to be taken in by superstition.)
The "Jedi knight" idea is amusing. It originated in Australia, where some bright spark noticed that anything that was stated on more than 10,000 census forms as a "religion" had legally to be treated as such, and thought that if enough Australians could be persuaded to enter this, a new official religion could be created at a stroke in a recent census. I'm not sure if it worked, but it might not apply outside Oz in any case.
Returning to the main debate:
As things stand, we seem to have a law which is merely a bit of gesture politics. As commentators have pointed out, the advocation of murder or other violence against any group is already well covered by existing UK law. The law about to come into force seems to be restricted to utterances which are *intended* to provoke hatred and violence and which explicitly advocate such action. I can live with this, and it is welcome insofar as it might be used to restrict the activities and curb the more insane pronouncements of mad imams who claim that Jihad (in the military sense) is a duty of Muslims.
If I state that Mohammed was a deluded illiterate camel driver whose philosophy is a muddled derivation of Jewish and Christian thought in the 7th Century (and I would seriously defend this view, having studied the Koran) then I don't think I would fall foul of the new law, even though Muslims would find this grossly offensive. I abhor violence for religious, racial and political (and other) reasons, and my intention is to provoke thought, not violence.
The effects of the new law will only become apparent in the first test case, of course.