Secular Sunday #276 'You fill up my Census...' || 9 April, 2017
Secular Sunday - Atheist Ireland's weekly newsletter


Census results break a significant barrier.

The census results this week broke a significant barrier - more Irish people now have no religion (468,400) than members of all minority religions combined (439,000). That should encourage more atheists to stand up for our rights, particularly in the education system, and to support equal treatment for everyone, regardless of religious or nonreligious beliefs.

Another 125,300 people declined to answer the religion question. Some of the ‘not stated’ may be religious, but certainly not all of them. So the actual figure for No Religion, whatever it is, is over 10%. Also, in Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire and Galway, more than one in three of the population is non-Catholic.

Atheist Ireland is very pleased with these results. In the run-up to the census, we encouraged atheists who have no religion to to tick the No Religion box. 468,000 people did that, compared to 269,000 five years ago. When Atheist Ireland was founded in 2008, the previous census had only 186,000 nonreligious.

We are increasingly optimistic that a secular Ireland is ultimately inevitable, free of religious privilege and religious discrimination against any citizens. If you agree, please join us, and encourage your friends to do so. In particular, if you have a child in a State-funded school, and they are forced to attend religion classes, contact us and we will let you know how to free your child from those classes. You have a constitutional right to do this, even in denominational schools.

You will find details throughout this newsletter on how to get involved. We look forward to hearing from you.


- Secular Sunday Editorial Team

Atheist Ireland News

Catholic Church has privileged position on political funding with SIPO


The Irish State has put in place laws that enable religious organisations (mainly the Catholic Church) to campaign on political issues such as the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and religious control of schools. But ethical secular organisations, including Atheist Ireland, get no such benefit because we treat the law with respect.

The Catholic Church, the most powerful religion in Ireland, also call itself a State when it suits its interests, and continues to have a huge influence on all areas of legislation and public policy. The Catholic Church campaigns on political grounds to ensure that the Irish State does not amend its Constitution to bring it in line with our international human rights obligations.

The Irish Catholic newspaper recently reported that the Abortion Rights Campaign has returned a grant of $24,999 to the US-based Open Societies Foundation, after being directed to do so by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO). This highlights an area where double standards apply and where secular groups with integrity get treated differently by the State than religious organisations.

Atheist Ireland has also declined offers of large political donations, because we want to act ethically and stay within the law. One of Atheist Ireland’s policies is to promote integrity in public life, and an end to the nod-and-wink approach to Irish politics, where we are expected to ignore religious discrimination by pretending it doesn’t exist, and where the law can be ignored or fudged to mean whatever people want it to mean.

The regulation of donations by the Standards in Public Office Commission is one of those areas. It seems that the Catholic Church has again come out in a privileged position, while secular organisations that are honest about our activities, and that campaign with integrity, get no such privileges. Read more...


UN tells Ireland to introduce compulsory objective sex education

A United Nations Committee has recommended that Ireland should integrate objective compulsory sex education into the school curriculum, and should closely monitor and evaluate its delivery by schools.

This is a result of Atheist Ireland raising this issue with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is the first time the UN has examined sex education in Irish schools.

Atheist Ireland told the Committee that sex education is delivered according to the ethos of schools at both primary and second level. The vast majority of schools are under the patronage of the Catholic Church. This means that it is Catholic sex education that is delivered in most schools.

The Recommendation from the UN Committee reads:

(c) Integrate compulsory and standardised age-appropriate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights into school curricula, including comprehensive sex education for adolescent girls and boys covering responsible sexual behaviours and focused on preventing early pregnancies; and ensure that it is scientifically objective and its delivery by schools is closely monitored and evaluated Read more...

One in ten Irish now have no religion – more than all minority religions combined


Atheist Ireland held a successful campaign encouraging people with no religion to say so in the census. We welcome the following preliminary results from the census:

  • One in ten Irish people (468,400) have no religion. That’s a 73% rise from 2011, which is the highest rise of any category.
  • More people have no religion (468,400) than members of all minority religions combined (439,000).
  • Another 125,300 people declined to answer the religion question. That’s another 3.8%. Some of the ‘not stated’ may be religious, but certainly not all of them. So the actual figure for No Religion, whatever it is, is over 10%.
  • The number of Catholics has declined both in percentage terms (-3.4%) and in real terms (-132,000 people).
  • In Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire and Galway, more than one in three of the population is non-Catholic.

However, we believe that these figures still greatly overestimate the strength of religion, and particularly Catholicism, in Ireland.

  • They are based on a flawed census question, that asked ‘What is your religion?’ This assumes that you have a religion. Studies have shown that more people say they have a religion when asked this, than do when asked ‘Are you religious?’ or ‘Do you have a religion?’
  • Census forms are frequently filled in by a parent, who may fill in a religion for other family members who are not in fact religious.
  • The evidence of day to day life, including Church attendance, indicates that far more than one in ten Irish people are not religious.

Schools pay patron body to supply sample prayer services

CEIST is a second level Catholic Patron Body (Trustee) of 110 publicly funded second level schools. According to their Annual Report for 2015, they received €289,000 in Licence Fees from the 110 schools where they are the Patron.

One of the things the schools got for this Licence Fee was sample prayer services for staff meetings and gatherings of pupils. Yes, that’s right: although the amount may be small, public funding for schools, and parental contributions, pay for sample prayers for staff meetings! Read more...


Atheist Ireland to take part in the' March for Science' 

Atheist Ireland will join the 'March for Science'. The march takes place from 2pm in Dublin on Saturday 22nd April. According to the website they will "march on the streets of Dublin to celebrate our passion for science and as a call to support and safeguard the scientific community and evidence-based policy. We will assemble at Grand Canal Square at 2pm and march to Government Buildings".

The Dublin march is part of an international initiative to stand up for science and evidence in the face of an alarming trend toward  discrediting scientific consensus.

You can read a piece by John Hamill of Atheist Ireland on why he is taking part in the march in the 'Media and Opinion' section of this edition.

Renewed Campaign on Separation of Church and State

Atheist Ireland are stepping up our campaign to call for a separation of Church and State. The principles adopted at the World Atheist Conference in 2011, known as the Dublin Declaration, continue to inform the aims of this campaign. You can read more about this campaign here.

The first part of stepping up of our campaign involves us looking for people who are interested in becoming Atheist Ireland 'Constituency Co-ordinators'. The plan is ultimately to get Atheist Ireland Constituency Co-ordinators in each constituancy who will be our point of contact with the TDs and County Councillors.

Anyone who is interested in taking up this role will get full training from Atheist Ireland. The Constituency Co-ordinators will play an integral part in working on our future campaign to separate Church and State.

If you are interested in becoming a Constituency Co-ordinator please email Ashling at stating which constituency you live in. We will in touch with regards to training days for this work over the next week or so.

We hope as many of you as possible will get invovled in this renewed campaign.


Michael Nugent to speak at the Rationalist International Conference in Helsinki

Michael Nugent will be speaking a the Rationalist International Conference in Helsinki on the 12th to 14th May.

Jane Donnelly & Michael Nugent to speak at International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression


Jane Donnelly and Michael Nugent will be speaking at this International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in London on the 22nd to 23rd July.


Michael Nugent to speak at the International Freethought Congress in Paris

Michael Nugent will be speaking about religious discrimination and dying with dignity at the International Freethought Congress in Paris in September.

Be Good without Gods

Atheist Ireland 'Good Without Gods' Kiva team members have made loans of  $18,975  to 659 entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can join the team here. Before you chose a loan, make sure you do not support religious groups. You can check the loan partner's social and secular rating here.

Atheist Ireland's '' is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 783 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here

Petitions on Blasphemy and Schools Equality PACT 

Atheist Ireland continues to run two petitions; one for a referendum to remove blasphemy from the Irish Constitution and the other, the Schools Equality PACT seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Please sign and share if you haven't already done so. Thank you.


Tell us what you think.

Have you any feedback that you would like to give us on the Secular Sunday newsletter. What are we getting right? What could  we improve on? Is there something you would like to see included? Drop us an email at

Please consider joining or re-joining Atheist Ireland. 

Atheist Ireland is an entirely volunteer run organisation. We receive no grants or government funding to continue our campaign work. We rely entirely on membership fess and donations.

Annual membership is nominal; €25 waged and €10 unwaged/student. Please consider becoming a member. Membership means:
  • You can help to build an ethical and secular Ireland.
  • You have a say in determining policy and electing officers.
  • You can attend members meetings and our AGM.
  • You will have access to our members only Facebook group
  • Your membership fee will go towards supporting our many campaigns.

 You can join Atheist Ireland here.

Thank you for your continued support.

Atheist Ireland Committee


Atheist Ireland Events

All events are free and open to everyone to attend unless otherwise stated.

All Atheist Ireland events are listed below as well as on our website


Wednesday 19th April, 8pm, The Linen Weaver
'Atheists in the Pub'

Saturday 6th May, 3pm, Kudos Bar Clarion Hotel
Late Lunch


Sunday 9th April, 1pm, Irish Film Institute Temple Bar

Saturday 22nd April, 2pm, Grand Canal Square
Atheist Ireland will take part in the 'March for Science'


Watch this space, more events coming soon.


Saturday 15th April, 12-2.30pm, Main Street, Killarney
Information Table

Saturday 15th April, 3pm, Gentings Restaurant, Killarney
Late Lunch


Watch this space, more events coming soon.


Watch this space, more events coming soon.


Sunday 9th April, 1pm, The Glasshouse Hotel, Swan Point


Saturday 15th April, 1pm, Main Street
Information Table


Watch this space, more events coming soon.



Other Events of Interest

(Sharing events run by other organisations is not an endorsement)


Astronomy Ireland
Monday 10th April, 8pm, Physics Building, Trinity College, Dublin
Public Lecture with Eammon Ansbro 'Communications with Extra-terrestrial Civilisations' (tickets required, €10)

March for Science
Saturday 22nd April, 2pm, Grand Canal Square, Dublin
March for Science, Ireland

Repeal Project
Sunday 23rd April, 7.30pm, Olympia Theatre, Dublin
A Night in the Key of 8 - fundraiser (tickets required, €28.50)

Dublin Central Repeal Project
Tuesday 25th April, 7pm, The Back Page Pub, Phibsboro
Pro-Choice Book Club 


Wednesday 10th May, 7.30pm, Belfast Castle, Antrim Road, Belfast
Northern Ireland Humanists Launch (tickets required)


Saturday 22nd July - Sunday 23rd July 2017, Venue TBC, London
International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century (tickets required)


Opinion and Media

Material collected from media and the blogosphere from Ireland and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement. We aim to include a variety of diverse opinions and viewpoints.

Blogs & Opinions


Why I'm Marching: John Hamill


By John Hamill

John Hamill is a member of Atheist Ireland and the CEO Co-Founder of a software company.

Like so many other industries, progress within the software industry has always been driven by both pure and applied scientific research. This is no less the case today than it was during the era of Turing and von Neumann. There are many areas of applied computer science research that are relevant to Irish software companies at present. For example, as we come out of the second artificial intelligence winter, deep learning algorithms already have many practical applications. This is an area where the Irish software industry can make a real contribution, especially where there is support for applied computer science research from State agencies and others.

Similarly, pure research in computer science is also an area where Ireland can participate in the most contemporary work. Fields such as quantum computing are still at an early stage but promise to revolutionise many aspects of how we live. Ernest Walton was an Irish scientist who made no small contribution to experimentally verifying theories about the structure of the atom. Indeed, the father of quantum mechanics Erwin Schrödinger, also spent many years within Irish academia. There is no reason why the next breakthrough in quantum computing algorithms cannot also be an Irish one, if appropriate pure research receives the commensurate funding.

Whether public policy relates directly to science or any other area, I am also anxious to see that it is evidence-based. I’m a member of Atheist Ireland and the first line of the mission statement in our constitution, includes an aim to “build a rational, ethical and secular society free from superstition and supernaturalism”. Of course, faith-based reasoning relates to more than just religiously-inspired legislation. People can also have faith that our problems can be solved by the unrestrained free market, or by collective ownership, or by globalisation or by protectionism. Science eschews ideology in favour of objective truth. It allows us to see past the easy and populist answers in order to understand what the effective and practical answers are. Read more...

Why I am Marching: Shaun O’Boyle

by Shaun O’Boyle

Shaun O'Boyle is a scientist turned science communicator and a co-chair of the March for Science, Ireland Organising Committee. 

On the 25th of January, a Reddit thread brought a critical mass of like-minded people together, and the March for Science was born. This new movement was in response to a United States Administration that was denying the reality of climate change, befriending the anti-vaccination community, and dismissing any press it didn’t agree with as “fake news”. This new movement was timely and inspiring, and within hours “satellite” marches were emerging around the planet.

On the 26th of January, a small group of scientists and science communicators assembled and March for Science, Ireland was born. This was more than just a display of solidarity with our American peers, it was an opportunity to make a strong stand against this new culture of “alternative facts”, which is by no means limited to the US. It was an opportunity to start important conversations here in Ireland about the value of international scientific collaboration, the importance of evidence-based policy, and the role science has in our society and culture.

Since then, our team has grown. Volunteers and supporters have helped shape our mission, build our community, and focus our goals for this march. This process has formed a critical mass of like-minded people here in Ireland, who will continue to stand up for science and evidence beyond 22nd April. Read more...

Irish Census 2016 – More Rastas than Pastas, More Jedis than Jews or Jains

by Michael Nugent

For the first time, the Irish Census results include all religious minorities with thirty or more respondents. There are nearly sixty listed. Here are some of the more interesting facts:


  • More Lapsed Catholics (8,094) than Lapsed Church of Ireland (74)
  • More Jedi Knights (2,050) than Jews (1,929) or Jains (134)
  • More Rastafarians (114) than Pastafarians (92)
  • More Pastafarians (92) than Scientologists or Hare Krishnas (87 each)
  • More Kimbanguists (69) than Zoroastrians (35)
  • More Satanists (78) than Salvation Army members (52)
  • The smallest stated allegiances are Eckist and Theist (30 each)
  • Some wrote Atheist (7,477) or Agnostic (5,006) under ‘Other Religion’

Phrases I Hate- What is the World Coming To?


Often when you hear about a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack or even an isolated criminal incident in the news, you’ll find yourself sitting around with your contemporaries expressing outrage, faux or otherwise, and sure as anything, one will often come up with the seemingly authentically profound but really meretricious rhetorical “What’s the world coming to?”. There are variations too. “what kind of world are we living in?”, or “the world’s falling apart”. In no time was this brand of pessimism more evident than in 2016. In fact it became a running joke about how bad 2016 was, because many people didn’t get what they wanted when it came to political outcomes. Some even made the atrocious claim that Donald Trump and his buffoonish behaviour was comparable to that of Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany.

It’s not the phrase in itself that irritates me. It’s the implication in it. The implication being that we are regressing as a society, and as the world goes on we see more and more horrific instances of human depravity, with poverty and disaster looming around every corner. I even hear people say, as I’m sure you’ve heard “ I wish I was living in the 20s”, or “ I wish I was in the 50s”. Of course, there’s some levity involved here, as people often don’t fully mean such a sentiment. Indeed they may be saying it somewhat facetiously, as we often do in this age. However this notion is not necessarily limited to comedic exaggeration. According to a YouGov UK poll, 65% of Americans and Brits thought the world was getting worse.

However it does beg the question , how bad do we have it today? What is the overall quality of material living? Read more...

Facebook’s shocking deference to murderous theocracy

By Ethan Shattock

In an era where so many people seem to be appalled and outraged by the apparently fascist theocracy instigated by the new Trump administration, a lot less of the so called liberal minded people in the West have expressed such anger towards a truly despicable act by the very social network they routinely use as a platform on which to lambast Trump amongst others. Facebook, a privately owned social networking company recently acceded to requests from officials in the Pakistan government to remove blasphemous content from the site.

On Tuesday CNBC reported that the company, the founder and CEO of which is an atheist, will move to alleviate concerns about blasphemous posts on the site and will send a delegation to “discuss the issue with the government”. Not only have there been concerns about the fact that the “insulting” content is on the social network, but this also comes in conjunction with a strong desire to impose punitive measures  on those perpetrating the crime of not showing blind respect to religious fundamentalist views. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan issued a statement to journalists in which he assured that Facebook was taking the government’s worries “very seriously”. This comes after previous warnings issues by the interior minister that social media sites who insufficiently proscribed blasphemous material may be shut down in the country, where Mark Zuckerberg’s site has roughly 30 million users.

The argument in favour of this complicity may relate to the fact that to appease these demands would be to ensure greater international cohesion between two countries who wish to avoid political conflict. Indeed you may suggest that this is the law of the land in Pakistan, and therefore Facebook should not be in a position where it dictates to other countries how to apply principles of secularism and free speech. I find this to be disingenuous. The fact is, this is cowardice in the face of autocratic theocracy. Read more...

Scoops on Friday? Oh wait, there’s a ban

By Brendan Walsh

Every year in the leadup to Easter there is discussion and debate regarding the legal ban on the sale of alcohol in the Republic of Ireland on Good Friday (the day Jesus died, two days before Easter, for all you people who live under rocks). Sporting events often come under this remit. People were upset in 2010 (excuse me if I’ve gotten this wrong) when Leinster were hosted by Munster in Thomond Park and fans watching in pubs couldn’t drink. Last year in the Aviva Stadium, Ireland defeated Switzerland 1-0. Inside the stadium, special dispensation was given so fans could purchase alcohol. In our airports, alcohol is allowed to be sold too. I once heard of a case of someone buying a cheap Ryanair ticket just so they could go into the bar and have a few pints. I think that gentleman may have a problem and needs to go to someone professional to talk about that problem.

Part II, Section 3C of the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927 prohibits the sale of alcohol on Good Friday. It also prohibits the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day and St. Patrick’s Day although the ban on St. Patrick’s Day was lifted in 1960. St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day after all. There are people from the side of lifting the ban and from the side of retaining the ban that get quite worked up about it. This isn’t the most pressing of issues in Ireland I know but it is coming up to Good Friday so out of pure indulgence, I thought I might write a small piece on it.

Remnants of Catholic Ireland
A lot is made of the Good Friday ban as being a remant of Ireland being Catholic and that it is just another example of that. Calm down on that one because we have plenty other remnants no one really cares to make an argument against which I will explore presently. The Good Friday ban is not symbolic of a theocracy. If it were, infidelity would still be illegal and we may have a few more things to worry about. Read more...



"Secularism isn’t about the absence of religion, it’s about the structure of the state"


By Samira Shackle

Q&A with Yasmin Rehman, veteran campaigner recently named Secularist of the Year.

Yasmin Rehman is a veteran anti-racist and feminist activist. Over the course of her career, she has worked in local government, been a frontline caseworker on domestic violence, acted as director of partnerships and diversity at the Metropolitan police, and deputy national lead on forced marriage and honour based violence. She has researched and campaigned on issues as diverse as ritual abuse, polygamy, temporary marriage, and the persecution of religious minorities, and is part of the One Law For All campaign against parallel legal systems. In March 2017, Rehman was named Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society. Here, she discusses her work. Read more...


Sayeeda Warsi's blinkered view of Islamism


by Maryam Namazie

Sayeeda Warsi’s new book catalogues some of the hypocrisy and double standards of the British Government, the rise of the far-Right and bigotry against Muslims, yet has a glaring blind spot when it comes to Islamism. According to Warsi, Islamist terrorism is the result of everything but Islamist ideology.

Since most of those killed by Islamists are “Muslims” in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, her argument that terrorism is the result of Islamophobia, racism, foreign policy and social exclusion is unconvincing. Also, she fails to see that many aggrieved people end up involved in progressive political and civil rights work rather than inciting violence or murdering women, men and children in schools and marketplaces.

Without any apparent understanding of the context and rise of the contemporary transnational Islamist movement, including Iran’s key role in it, Warsi says “simmering resentment” began when the British Government apparently failed to prosecute Salman Rushdie for blasphemy. “Muslims,” she says, “wanted British laws to protect Islam,” and when it didn’t happen, the Iranians were more than happy to step in with what she characterises as “concern and moral support”. According to her, Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa put Iran in “pole position, ready and willing to come out leading the collective Muslim sentiment”.

Like any good apologist who is more concerned with blasphemy than murder, and who homogenises “Muslim sentiment” to coincide with her own, Warsi doesn’t seem bothered that the act of “concern” was a fatwa against a British citizen, nor that it took place during the bloody Eighties, when thousands of Iranians were executed by the regime. Warsi also seems to conveniently overlook the fact that blasphemy laws continue to persecute freethinkers such as Ayaz Nizami in Pakistan and Sina Dehghan in Iran. Read more...


Ayann Hirsi Ali and the cost of speaking up against Islamism

by Stephen Knight

Author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has cancelled her Australian and New Zealand speaking tour, citing ‘security concerns’ according to reports:

Ali said in a statement she regretted that, “for a number of reasons including security concerns”, she had to cancel her upcoming appearances.

“She is very disappointed indeed about this but was left with no alternative following a succession of organisational lapses on the part of the event organisers, Think Inc,” the statement read.

She was due to speak at events in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland. Leading up to the scheduled talks, petitions were signed and anti-Ayaan videos were made. Labels such as ‘hate speech’, ‘Islamophobe’ and ‘white supremacy’ were invoked in order to mask what amounts to an attempt to enforce Islamic blasphemy law.

This all took place to the backdrop of Islamists in Australia being exposed for advocating death for those who leave Islam, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali did.

A vocal and well known ex-Muslim critic of Islam, it should surprise no one that Hirsi Ali requires constant armed security. You may recall the murder of her friend, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh at the hands of a Muslim fanatic in 2004. Van Gogh had worked with Hirsi Ali on a movie highlighting the abuse faced by women living under Islam. He paid for it with his life.

The killer pinned a note to Van Gogh’s body – with a knife. It was addressed to, and aimed death threats at Ayaan Hirsi Ali specifically.

In a conversation I recorded with American talk show host Dave Rubin, he told me that Hirsi Ali was unable to reveal so much as the state she was located in when appearing on his show via video link –  such are the precautions she must take for having the ‘wrong’ opinions on the religion of peace.

If one spends their time voicing the opinion that Islam has a problem with extremism, then finds themselves under armed protection as a consequence – you’d think people may be more willing to concede she could be on to something. Read more...

Westminister and the Islamic connection

by Damion Daniels/Aero Magazine

Back in the autumn of 2010, an online magazine produced and published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula entitled Inspire, urged it’s readership to attack “the enemies of Allah” by ploughing vehicles into pedestrians in crowded locations. “Narrower spots are better because it gives less chance for the people to run away” they advised. “It is a simple idea and there is not much involved in its preparation. All what (sic) is needed is the willingness to give one’s life for Allah.”

Similarly, in 2014 Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani issued the following statement directed at enthusiastic ISIS supporters without the means for acquiring explosives and firearms:

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbeliever… (and) slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car.”

More recently, in August of last year, the Islamic State released an issue of their glossy propaganda magazine Dabiq featuring a four page article entitled “Why We Hate You and Why We Fight You.” This essay clearly and painstakingly spelled out the root causes and objectives of jihadist terror. It was absolutely unequivocal in its declaration that the Islamic obligation to “fight the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam” is the primary cause of their behavior and that all other factors, including foreign policy grievances, are secondary. The “policies” of Western societies prioritized for violent reprisals were those of secularism, liberalism, and atheism, rather than interventionism or imperialism. Read more...

Lessons from London: Heroism, Bigotry and Abject Self-Deception

by Secular Detective

On March 22nd, Khalid Masood drove a hired vehicle along the southern pavement of Westminster Bridge, reaching speeds of up to seventy-six miles per hour, and knocking down dozens of pedestrians, killing three. He continued in the vehicle until it collided with barriers outside the Houses of Parliament, where he disembarked brandishing a knife and attacked PC Keith Palmer, fatally stabbing him. The attack, having by this point lasted less than ninety seconds, was brought to an end when Masood was shot by armed officers, and despite efforts to keep him alive, he died shortly afterwards of a single bullet wound to the chest. Much has been said and written since the incident, and much of what has been said and written has been contested and denounced as mere speculation, being divisive, and for “fuelling the fire” and even “playing into the terrorists’ hands”. There is much to be learned from the nature of the attack itself and what is now known about the man behind it, but I submit that other pertinent lessons, if we allow ourselves to pay sufficient attention, will arise from our conversations and attitudes in reacting to what took place.

Cliché about linings and roundabouts is arguably forgivable here, especially in the context of a consideration of humanity’s most sordid abasement. Examples of true gallantry and valour emerge fittingly to restore one’s belief that perhaps all is not lost in this great experiment. Most notable in this regard was PC Keith Palmer, whose plight was put so poignantly by one of the other courageous individuals forming the account, MP Tobias Ellwood, saying of the officer that he “gave his life in holding the line against terrorism and defending democracy”. Ellwood himself is said to have run in the opposite direction to his colleagues when the initial alarm was sounded in the House as to the emergency on its doorstep. This is no small thing. While others understandably thought immediately of self-preservation, Ellwood’s military instincts no doubt turned his thoughts to what he could do to help. “[A]s soon as I realised what was going on I headed towards [the scene]”, he told reporters, before describing his actions and PC Palmer’s injuries: “I tried to stem the flow of blood and give mouth-to-mouth while waiting for the medics to arrive but I think he had lost too much blood. He had multiple wounds, under the arm and in the back.” Read more...

If you are a blogger or vlogger writing or talking about atheism, secularism, ethics, skepticism, human rights etc. and would like us to include your work here please email the link to

Podcasts, Videos and Interviews


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Atheist Ireland at 'Days of Atheism' in Warsaw




Media Watch

News and views from Ireland and around the world. Sharing is not an endorsement. 






The Really, Truly True Beliver of the Week Award

Each week we pause to acknowledge a really, truly True Beliver. This week the award goes to....

Religious Right leader Bryan Fischer claimed on Twitter that the LGBTQ community have stolen the rainbow from God.

He then went on to back up his claim by saying the rainbow proved that we don't have to worry about climate change:

"“The rainbow is God’s,” Fischer said. “God invented the rainbow — look at Genesis 9:11-17 — He invented it, it’s His thing, He put it in the sky as a promise that he would never again destroy the earth through a flood. Are you listening Al Gore? Al Gore, you do not need to worry about the planet being destroyed by floodwaters. Why? Because God has put His rainbow in the sky to let you and everybody else know, ‘I’m never going to do that again.’”

h/t: Hemant Metha


This Week in History

Celebrating/remembering a momentous event in atheism, science, skepticism, secularism or human rights, plundered shamelessly from Wikipedia and other sources.


Tennessee Repeals Butler Act that Banned Teaching Evolution in Schools: 13 April 1967

The Butler Act was a 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man's origin. It was enacted as Tennessee Code Annotated Title 49 (Education) Section 1922, having been signed into law by Tennessee governor Austin Peay. The law also prevented the teaching of the evolution of man from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.

The law was challenged later that year in a famous trial in Dayton, Tennessee called the Scopes trial which included a raucous confrontation between prosecution attorney and fundamentalist religious leader, William Jennings Bryan, and noted defense attorney and religious agnostic, Clarence Darrow.

The law remained on the books until 1967, when teacher Gary L. Scott of Jacksboro, Tennessee, dismissed for violation of the act, sued for reinstatement, citing his First Amendment right to free speech. Although his termination was rescinded, Scott continued his fight with a class action lawsuit in the Nashville Federal District Court, seeking a permanent injunction against enforcement of that law. Within three days of his filing suit, a bill for repeal of the Butler Act had passed both houses of the Tennessee legislature, signed into law May 18 by Governor Buford Ellington. Read more...

Scopes Battles the Butler Act: The Fight for Evolution Theory

Scopes Monkey Trial 

The Monkey Trial- Historic Footage



Celebrating the life and work of a notable atheist born this week in history.


George Jacob Holyoake: 13 April 1817 (d.22 January 1906)

George Jacob Holyoake was mainly self-educated and a vigorous campaigner for secularism and freethought during the 19th century. He wrote 160 books and pamphlets and edited several magazines, including The Movement and The Reasoner. Holyoake was the last person in England to be imprisoned on a charge of atheism, for saying at a public lecture in Cheltenham in 1842 (at a time of economic hardship): “If I could have my way, I would place the deity on half pay as the Government of this country did its subaltern officers.”

It was Holyoake who suggested the term `secularism’ and organised the early Secular Societies, becoming Vice-President of the National Secular Society.  Bradlaugh was preferred as President because he was a much more eloquent speaker. He campaigned with Bradlaugh for secular affirmations. Read more...

"One of the two great forces of opinion created in this age is what is known as Atheism, which deprives superstition of its standing ground, and compels Theism to reason for its existence"

"The popular theology, it must be owned, has many repulsive aspects. The vulgarest and most illiterate believer is encouraged to profess a familiar and confident knowledge, hidden from the profoundest philosophers. It is an unanswerable position, that had God spoken, the universe would have been convinced."

From "Free Thought—Its Conditions, Agreements, and Secular Results" | Individualism: A Reader -George J Holyoake




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