Secular Sunday #168 - So much universe, and so little time || 15 March, 2015
Secular Sunday - Atheist Ireland's weekly newsletter
Derek WalshI don't want to turn this into an obituary section, but now Terry Pratchett has gone and died, which is something of what he himself would call an embuggerance. He created worlds so odd that they made us realise just how strange our own world is, and he created fantastical characters: wizards elves, trolls, dwarfs, orang-utans and Death himself, who were all utterly and wonderfully human. Not just a brilliant and prolific writer, he was an atheist, a humanist and a campaigner for the right to die. It seems unfair that he's gone. But in one of his many pointed and darkly humorous lines about death, Pratchett would remind us: "Death isn’t cruel, merely terribly, terribly good at his job."
- Derek Walsh, Editor




Statement on Marriage Equality

Atheist Ireland unequivocally supports a Yes vote in the Marriage Equality referendum on 22 May. We support the equal right of all citizens to choose to marry the person they love.
Atheist Ireland believes that public policy and the civil law should be informed by ethical secularism, rationality and the reasoned consideration of evidence. The Irish State should not legislate based on faith, revelation, superstition or prejudice. The Irish Constitution should not reflect the views of any particular religion.
Atheist Ireland supports the equal rights of all minorities before the law; be they atheists or members of minority religions, people of different age, race, gender or family status, members of the Travelling Community, people with disabilities, or LGBTQ people. We support the rights of all members of our society not to be discriminated against or to have their human rights infringed upon. Read more

Meeting with NCCA

This week Jane Donnelly and Michael Nugent met with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to discuss our concerns about the proposed Education about Religions and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics course for Primary Schools in Ireland. The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism recommended that this new course be introduced to all Primary schools in Ireland.
Given the legal framework in Ireland, and the fact that we have direct experience of a Religious Education course at second level, we requested that our right to exempt our children from this course is recognised and guaranteed. Read more

New Catholic School Guidelines

The Catholic Bishops Schools Partnership has released a document titled ‘Catholic Primary Schools in a Changing Ireland – Sharing good Practice on Inclusion of All Pupils’.
These proposals claim to be inclusive, but they are only inclusive of families who agree to submit to a Catholic ethos in their local publicly funded school, even when they have no choice other than to attend that school. They do not respect the human rights of atheist or secular families.
Despite the document saying that its focus is on educating non-Catholic pupils, it also says that everyone is made in the image of God and is called to share in God’s own life forever.
It concedes that in some cases, parents may have little or no choice but to send their children to a Catholic school, but it fails to respect the rights of those families. Read more

Blasphemy Petition

Atheist Ireland has presented Taoiseach Enda Kenny with an open letter asking him to hold a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution. We have put the letter on in the form of a petition that you can sign. Over 1,500 people have already signed.


Upcoming Events

All events are free and open to everyone unless otherwise stated. Listing is not necessarily an endorsement. Listings sorted alphabetically by county, then chronologically.


Sunday 29 March, 12:00 noon, Rowan Tree Cafe Bar, Harmony Row, Ennis (map)
Mid West Humanists Sunday Brunch. The Mid West Humanists are now on Facebook and Twitter.



Tuesday 21 April, 7:30 pm, Davenport Hotel, Lower Merrion St, Dublin 2 (map)
Aron Ra will be speaking to Atheist Ireland on "How Religion Harms Education". Aron Ra makes videos promoting science education in an area where creationism is often promoted even in public schools. As Texas State Director of American Atheists, he is an activist for secular politics in a heavily religious environment. Meetup event page


Wednesday 18 March, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry's Mall, Limerick (map)
The Mid West Humanists will meet. (Ask at the hotel reception for a card key to get up the lift to the meeting, which is usually on the third floor.)


Sunday 5 April, 12:00 noon, Radisson Blu Hotel, Northgate St,, Athlone (map)
Secular Sunday Brunch. A family-friendly social event. Meetup event page


20 March

International Day of Happiness

21 March

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

This Week in History

Anniversaries of momentous events in atheism, science, skepticism, secularism and human rights, plundered shamelessly from Wikipedia and other sources.

16 March

1995: In the USA, Mississippi formally ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was officially ratified in 1865.

19 March

1987: Televangelist Jim Bakker resigns as head of the PTL Club due to a brewing sex scandal; he hands over control to Jerry Falwell.

20 March

1916: Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity.



16 March

Herschel Caroline 1829.jpg
1750: Caroline Herschel (d. 1848). German-English astronomer, discovered numerous comets and was the first woman to be paid for her contribution to science, to be awarded a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society, and to be named an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society. Also named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy of Dublin. Sister of William Herschel with whom she worked throughout her career.

20 March

1904: B. F. Skinner (d. 1990). American psychologist and author . A pioneer of modern behaviourism, he argued that human free will was actually an illusion and any human action was the result of the consequences of that same action.


Material collected from the Irish atheist blogosphere and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement.

Catholic Bishops and the New McQuaidism

by Bock the Robber

Bock the RobberWhat’s the New McQuaidism?
Well actually, it’s the old McQuaidism, dressed up in the clothes of tolerance, but it still hides a lead-filled crozier beneath its humble cassock.
Today on RTE, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh gave a bravura performance of New McQuaidism when he came on radio to defend the comments of his colleague, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin.
Kevin, you might recall, stated that  gay people who have children are not necessarily parents, and that the jury is out on whether people are born gay.  It was an unedifying spectacle, to see a 61-year-old celibate virgin pontificating on civil unions between people who have actual real-world experience of raising children, and it ran him into a storm of criticism, including a rebuke from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, whose keenly-attuned political antennae are always twitching, especially when his fellow princes of the church blurt out ill-considered statements without first engaging their brains.  Diarmuid went so far as to avoid expressing confidence in his colleague, so we can only imagine what kind of imbecile he called Doran in private. Read more

Media Watch

News and views from Ireland and around the world



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