From "Did Jesus exist? Italian court to decide" published by the Reuters News Service:
An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.
The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.
The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.
"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.
Oh boy, another court stepping outside of its area of expertise. Let's make this real clear here: the court has no business determining whether Jesus existed any more than a court should be in the business of determining whether Hannibal really crossed the Alps. It should no more determine who wrote the Gospels than it should determine who really wrote Shakespeare's plays. These are areas outside of the expertise of the court.
I note that the article reports that the judge in the case has tried to dismiss the case on several occasions, but it has been returned to him on appeal. In all sincerity, the judges to whom it is being appealed should recognize that the courts are without the necessary expertise or authority to be able to determine whether Jesus existed or not for any purpose. The best the courts should say is that there exists a great amount of evidence for the existence of the historical Jesus, but that some skeptics can raise questions about the truth of the claims. That would be an accurate assessment of the case. But it is insanity for a court to think itself sufficiently expert in this type of matter to reach any definitive conclusion one way or another.
Of course, if the judge makes a decision, does anyone really think that it is going to be treated with any respect by the people against whom the decision is rendered? If the judge rules that Jesus existed, do you suppose for a moment that Mr. Cascioli will renounce his writings and say "Gosh, I guess I was wrong?" Of course not. And if the court rules against the Priest, I can assure you that it will make no difference to me or any other believer because it is only one man's opinion -- an opinion that I would claim, in that case, did not appropriately weigh the evidence (and anyone who is an attorney can vouch that judges, while they try their best and overall make better decisions than not, make poor decisions regularly).