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Adam the Ape and Our Goddamn Wedding  - Secular Sunday #543 || 22 May, 2022

Editorial

Adam the Ape and Our Goddamn Wedding

 
After partnering Kamila Dydna with her wonderful short movie Debutante, we’re highlighting two more artistic projects this week - a children’s book about called Adam the Ape by Wolfgang Wambach and an atheist film called My Goddamn Wedding by Jeff Jackson.

In Adam the Ape, young Kenny is the best player in online adventure games, where nobody realises he is unable to speak. In real life, the mute schoolboy is bullied and cannot find friends. Everything changes after he meets Adam, a circus ape who can talk through sign language.

Aideen Hamill, an Irish atheist in Secondary School, reviews Adam the Ape on our website today and compares it to Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins. She concludes that while both books are wonderful, Wambach offers a carrot where Dawkins uses a stick.

Meanwhile Los Angeles-based filmmaker Jeff Jackson is fundraising to make a romantic comedy with a secular twist. It’s about a young bride who tries to hide her fiancé’s atheism from her Catholic mom until after the wedding, then the groom has a candid chat with their novice priest.

Jeff has already produced and directed a short film version of it, and raised about half of the money he need to produce it as a feature-length movie. You can read all about it on the film’s website: https://ourgoddamnwedding.com

As always, you can help Atheist Ireland to continue our work on secular issues by joining Atheist Ireland as a member, or by asking anybody who you think may be interested in joining us to do so. We are an entirely voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. You can join Atheist Ireland here.


 
- Secular Sunday Editorial Team

 

Éire Aindiach



Éire Aindiach

 
                                         
 
Chun ár gcuid feachtais a leathnú agus a neartú, tá sé beartaithe ag Éire Aindiach níos mó úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaeilge.
Ba mhaith linn meitheal a eagrú, chun cuidiú le:
  • Polasaithe agus feachtais Éire Aindiach a phlé ar an raidió nó ar an teilifís
  • Cuidiú le doiciméid ghaeilge a scríobh
  • Bualadh le polaiteoirí chun stocaireacht a dhéanamh
Táimid i mbun aistriúcháin a dhéanamh ar dhoiciméid polasaí faoi láthair, agus teastaíonn cabhair uainn le aistriúchán agus profáil.  Más maith leat bheith páirteach san iarracht seo, cur ríomhphost chugainn ag gaeilge@atheist.ie.
 
English translation:

To broaden and strengthen our campaigns, Atheist Ireland have undertaken to make more use of the Irish language.
We are looking to assemble a group of volunteers, to help with:
  • Discussing our policies and campaigns on radio or tv
  • Helping to write documents in Irish
  • Meeting with politicians to lobby them
We are in the process of translating policy documents at the moment, and we need some help with translating and proofreading.  If you would like to assist with this effort, please email us at gaeilge@atheist.ie.
 
 

Atheist Ireland News

 

Adam The Ape - A Book Review

 
Aideen Hamill, an Irish atheist in Secondary School, reviews Adam the Ape by Wolfgang Wambach
Richard Dawkins is probably the most famous evolutionary biologist in the world today. I recently read his book ‘Outgrowing God’, which is aimed at a younger audience. Having really enjoyed that book a lot, I was happy to have an opportunity to read ‘Adam The Ape’ by Wolfgang Wambach, which also introduces younger readers to evolution and humanism. While both books are wonderful, Wambach offers a carrot where Dawkins uses a stick.
What comes across most clearly from the non-fiction in ‘Outgrowing God’ is that Dawkins is an accomplished scientist. He leads the reader through the evidence in the field that he has mastered, to arrive at several unavoidable conclusions. For example, humans are a species of great ape and like other creatures we evolved from common ancestors, such that all animals on this planet are our cousins. Dawkins often uses fantastic metaphors and beautiful allusions, but the collection of evidence he gathers is a bit like a big stick, which is just as difficult to argue with as the real thing. That is, the effect of all the compelling evidence is to force some particular conclusions. Evolution is a fact that is as certain as any other, and reality does not allow us to pick our own truths.
In contrast, Wambach prefers the carrot of an adventure story, involving a young boy and a chimpanzee called Adam. The excitement of the narrative keeps the pages turning, so that the reader hardly notices the lessons being learned about evolution and the relationship between humans and our animal cousins. ‘Adam The Ape’ eventually teaches the reader many of the same lessons about humanity that Dawkins does, but Wambach’s setting is a fictional courtroom drama instead of the Dawkins science classroom. We can still realise that god is redundant, but in a very subtle way.
In his epilogue, Wambach reverts to a short summary of evolutionary science. The level of detail here is below what Dawkins provides, since ‘Adam The Ape’ seems to be aimed at a younger audience than ‘Outgrowing God’. I would recommend the Dawkins book for young adults who want to understand how science relates to religion and atheism. Dawkins provides a wonderful exposition of the evidence for evolutionary biology, without it ever appearing like school work. It is a joy to read and never a chore.
I would recommend the Wambach book for even younger readers, who may prefer an exciting narrative to non-fiction. The adventure story within ‘Adam The Ape’ offers a more gentle introduction to many of the same themes around evolution and humanism. I have no doubt that younger readers will enjoy it immensely, while also learning some important lessons along the way. You can buy Adam the Ape on Amazon.


 
 


Calling concerned teachers


If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at teachers@atheist.ie
 

 

List of Atheist Ireland Submissions

 

 

Buy this book "Is My Family Odd About Gods?"

 
**Schools Special Offer**
Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about godsfree (excluding postage and packaging).  This means that you can get this book for the total price of 10 euro. This offer is aimed at families with school going children, who would like to read this book. This offer is limited to one book per family unit and for postage within Ireland only. Read more...


 
Have you noticed that your school and your teachers may tell you one thing about religion, while some of your friends and family may have different ideas about god?
If you think that this is a little odd, then this book is for you. Buy this book here.
 

Lessons about Atheism


Atheist Ireland has published a set of free lesson plans about atheism for children aged 8 and up. We welcome feedback, which we will use to develop the lessons. You can download the lesson plans

 


 

Be Good without Gods

 
Atheist Ireland 'Good Without Gods' Kiva team members have made loans of  $36,575 to 1277 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.

 

Notme.ie

 
Atheist Ireland's 'notme.ie' is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1923 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here

 

Petition on Schools Equality PACT 

Atheist Ireland currently runs one petition - The Schools Equality PACT. This seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Currently this stands at 4,111 Help us reach it's target of 5000. Please sign and share this petition 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 secularsunday@atheist.ie.
 

 




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, €10 unwaged/student and €40 for family membership. 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

 

Opinion and Media

Material on atheism, secularism, human rights,politics,science etc. 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

 
 

National

 

TD and Minister for Education clash over sex education rollout.

 

By Carl O'Brien

 
Minister for Education Norma Foley and Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill clashed over the rollout of reforms to sex education in schools during an Oireachtas committee meeting on Thursday morning.
The quality of relationships and sexuality education (RSE) has been the subject of criticism on the basis that many students say they either do not receive it or find that it is outdated.
The RSE curriculum is currently being updated by the State’s advisory body on the curriculum, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
At a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality, Ms Carroll MacNeill asked whether every child in Ireland will get the same sexual education without opt-outs for parents or schools.
Ms Foley answered by saying “what is laid down in the curriculum will be followed”.
When Ms Carroll MacNeill asked if this meant schools would still be able to opt-out of the new curriculum, Ms Foley responded: “You’ve asked the question, and I’m answering it now. What is laid down in the curriculum must be followed within our schools. And there is oversight of that by our inspectorate.”
When Ms Carroll McNeill asked again if children would receive the same education without opt-outs for parents and schools, Ms Foley said it meant that the “curriculum will be followed in our schools, as laid down, when it comes to factual, appropriate, up-to-date information...”
In response, Ms Carroll McNeill said: “You didn’t answer my question.
Royal Irish Academy marks election of 29 new members
Bono joins Pope Francis for launch of educational movement for poor communities
Up to 80 children with special needs in Dublin without school places
“I asked you a simple yes or no, and you didn’t answer my question.”
Ms Foley said that “if the answer is correct the first time, if the information I give you is correct the first time, it will be correct the second and the third time when you ask it as well... no matter how many times you frame it.”
“Oh my goodness,” said Ms Carroll McNeill in response, before asking why, despite the Minister’s commitment to reform, there had been “no output” and few specific details over the rollout of reformed sex education. Read more...



 

Why havent more parents withdrawn children from First Holy Communion?

 

By Aoife Cassidy

 
Our family is unremarkable in all ways but one. Our children attend the local Catholic school but do not participate in religion, including the sacraments.
There are probably families all over the country who, like us, have opted out of religious education but in our community, we are very much the exception to the rule. 
Our Communion-age children have both been one of only two children in their class who did not take part.
Over the last few weeks, I noted the widespread outrage over the National Maternity Hospital and the proposed transfer of ownership of it, as well as shock and horror over the leak of a draft US Supreme Court judgment suggesting that Roe v Wade, the seminal judgment in the US that enshrined abortion as a constitutional right, is likely to be overturned imminently.
So I ask myself, why don’t more people opt out of religion and the sacraments in Ireland? A cultural attachment to the big day? A fear of their child being left out? A fear of offending or upsetting the grandparents? A genuine faith? 
The latter is the least likely, in my opinion, given how few of my peers attend regular weekly Mass with their families.
Leaving aside the reasons for opting out for a moment, First Holy Communion season is in full swing this month. 
Every day at the school gates, I am greeted with tales of 8am hair appointments, houses being painted, gardens being landscaped and planted, caterers being booked, dresses being altered.
Why don’t more people opt out of religion and the sacraments in Ireland? A cultural attachment to the big day? A fear of their child being left out? The children in my son’s class are spending hours at the local church learning when to sit, stand, kneel, walk and sing – most don’t attend Mass so aren’t familiar with etiquette. 
Hours of schooltime are spent preparing artwork to wallpaper the church for this one-day-only show of faith. 
Meanwhile, my son sits at the back of the Church or the classroom, reading his Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel.
I was baptised, taught by the Presentation nuns, and made my Communion and Confirmation, but sometime during secondary school, it occurred to me that I didn’t actually believe in any of it. 
I lived and worked in Germany in my 20s and drifted further from my tenuous faith. 
My husband had a more traditional Irish Catholic upbringing, attending Mass regularly, not just on Sunday but on so-called holy days of obligation. 
When we met, he had a reasonably strong faith, and we married in a Catholic Church. I respected his faith, even if I didn’t share it. 
His faith has however evaporated in recent years. His lightbulb moment came in 2017, with the discovery of the remains of hundreds of infants in a disused septic tank in Tuam, Co Galway on the site of the former Mother and Baby Home. Read more...

 

Legal Advisers to the National Maternity Hospital Act For Roman Catholic Hierarchy and for A Majority of Ireland’s Religious Orders

 

By The Hotpress Newsdesk

 
Major new issues to do with ethics and disclosure have been uncovered by Hot Press, in relation to the deal to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital alongside St. Vincent's Hospital, in its Elm Park campus. So serious are the issues that the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, must make a full statement as to what he knew and when – and why the issues were not openly discussed with the Oireachtas Health Committee. Report: Kate Brayden and Niall Stokes
A number of potential ethical obstacles have arisen in relation to the Government decision to proceed with the plan to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital on the Elm Park campus with St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The National Maternity Hospital has been represented in negotiations in relation to the move to the St. Vincent's Hospital site by the legal firm of Mason Hayes & Curran. A partner in the practice, Alice Murphy, appeared before the Health Committee in the Oireachtas to defend the legal aspects of the proposed deal, on behalf of the hospital.
However, Hot Press understands that Mason Hayes & Curran also act for the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin. While it is in the nature of a large legal practice that they will work for and represent many different clients and that "Chinese walls" are essential to the way in which they must operate, the question nevertheless arises as to whether that might have been seen as material information by members of the Oireachtas, or indeed the Cabinet, when it came to assessing the legal reassurances being offered in relation to the future Governance of the hospital, by the National Maternity Hospital and its representatives.
Mason Hayes & Curran's role as advisors to the National Maternity Hospital is a matter of public record. Hot Press asked the firm if it is factually correct to say that they also act for the Archdiocese of Dublin. However, they declined to comment. "I am not at liberty to disclose the identity of our clients or discuss the affairs of any clients," Alice Murphy told Hot Press.
The reluctance to comment seems strange. There is a section on the Mason Hayes & Curran website which is devoted to 'Religious Organisations', and a sub-section 'Charities'. Here, Mason Hayes & Curran presents itself as the leading law firm in Ireland for religious organisations. Read more...




 

Two Green TDs suspended for voting against Government on maternity hospital motion

 

By Aoife Moore

 
Two Green party TDs have been suspended from the party after voting with the opposition on a motion on the new National Maternity Hospital, leaving the Government with the slimmest of majorities.
Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello have been suspended from the Green Party for six months after voting with a Sinn Fein motion to locate the new National Maternity Hospital on state-owned land. They have also been stripped of the party whip.
The Green Party met for a parliamentary party meeting after the Dáil vote where they ruled out a permanent expulsion of the pair.
The decision to suspend the TDs was reached by consensus and a statement said the party "regretted" having to make it. Both TDs can reapply for membership of the parliamentary party in six months.
High-level sources confirmed to the Irish Examiner that Green Party leader Eamon Ryan discussed with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste how he would handle the issue within his own ranks.
Their sanction leaves the Government in a precarious position with a majority of just one.
The Sinn Fein motion passed after the 56 TDs voted in favour, 10 TDs voted against, with 69 Government TDs abstaining.
Despite Cabinet approving the ownership and governance plans for the new National Maternity Hospital at St Vincent’s earlier this week, critics of the agreement have continued to accuse the Government of failing to properly secure state ownership of a secular hospital.
The controversy has dogged the Government for several weeks and on Tuesday the Government had hoped to dodge a vote on the non-binding Sinn Fein motion by not opposing it. Read more...




 

Vatican/Vested interests 10: Women of Ireland 0. The people and process failures that created the St Vincent’s NMH débacle

 

By Peter Boylan

 
The ownership and governance arrangements for the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) are fraught with risk for future generations of women in Ireland. The board structure of the new hospital makes it liable to capture and control by the 3/3/3 membership structure.
 
The NMH will have minority representation of only three out of nine on its own board, and one of its directors is limited to chairing its own board for a maximum three out of nine years.
 
The three St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) directors are committed to the “continuance of the fulfilment” of the  evidently Catholic mission of the Venerable Mary Aikenhead, the founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity who is well advanced in the process of becoming a saint in the Catholic Church. One of these directors too will chair the NMH board for three out of every nine years.
 
Minister Donnelly claims he can guarantee that his successors over the next 299 years will not appoint three anti-choice members who could combine with the three SVHG members to form a 6:3 anti-choice majority. There is no need to speculate that such a situation might arise in fifty or a hundred years.
 
Memories are clear of the infamous picture of the majority of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party just four years ago — women to the forefront — holding up “Love Both” posters; while men in the background all affirm their anti-choice position.
 
In a final blow for NMH board independence, one of the ministerial nominees will chair the board for three out of every nine years.
 
The global pushback on women’s reproductive rights is constant.
 
Majorities on controlling boards matter.
 
Just look at how a majority anti-choice Supreme Court in the USA is poised to overturn Roe v Wade.
Problems with the NMH relocation plan began can be traced back to a letter written by then Master, Dr Rhona Mahony, and Deputy Chair Mr Nicholas Kearns to Kieran Mulvey in September 2016.
 “We agree that the ownership of what is now the NMH will transfer to the ownership of SVHG, a private company owned by the Sisters of Charity”.
Simon Harris, then Minister for Health, enthusiastically embraced this plan in the Mulvey report, apparently untroubled by the history of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland and seeing no possible risk in a Catholic religious order owning the State’s flagship maternity hospital.
When the predictable public uproar ensued, five years of complicated and secretive legal manoeuvres commenced.
 The Sisters announced they were departing healthcare. Not true, they were gifting their land to their successor private company, St Vincent’s Holdings.
The Sisters announced they were departing healthcare – a plan in the works for several years before May 2017 – and were “gifting lands worth €200 million to the People of Ireland”. Read more...

 
 

 

International


 

Prioritise RE reform not enforcement, NSS tells government

 

By The National Secular Society

 
The National Secular Society has warned the government that education about religion and belief should be reformed, rather than enforced, amid calls to compel schools to teach religious education.
Religious education bodies are calling on the government to compel schools in England to teach RE amid concerns support for the subject is waning.
An analysis by the RE Policy Unit found 34% of academies do not include RE on the school timetable. It also found 500 secondary schools are teaching zero hours of dedicated RE in Year 11.
The organisations are calling for school inspectorate Ofsted to work with schools not currently teaching "sufficient" RE to "ensure they comply with the law".
RE is a statutory part of the basic curriculum and all state schools must provide RE lessons.
RE popularity falls
The RE Policy Unit, which is made up of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education and RE Today Services, has called for RE to receive greater funding in recognition of "parent and pupil support" for the subject.
But its own analysis found entries for the full course RE GCSE fell by almost 20% between 2016 and 2021. It also said RE is "neglected" on the school timetable in favour of English Baccalaureate subjects.
Additionally, a recent YouGov poll found 55% of Britons considered religious studies either not very or not at all important. Out of a list of 18 subjects, respondents ranked religious studies 15th in terms of being important (40%), with only drama, classics and Latin being positioned lower.
It is also difficult to recruit RE teachers. RE teacher recruitment targets have not been met for nine of the last ten years, and 25% of RE lessons are taught by teachers with no post A-level qualifications in the subject.
Read more...

 

#JusticeForDeborah: European Union Mourns Sokoto Student Killed For Alleged Blasphemy, Calls For Justice

 

By Sahara Reporters

 
The European Union (EU) has expressed sadness over the gruesome killing of a Nigerian citizen, Deborah Samuel in Sokoto State.
The union made this known via a tweet on Wednesday, saying that the body is "still saddened by last week’s gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto."
The 27-member union also said "everything must be done to ensure the murderers are not only swiftly brought to justice, but that justice is done. Reoccurrence must also be prevented."
The parents of the late Deborah Samuel of Shagari College of Education Sokoto, Sokoto State have described the death of their daughter as sad and painful, saying they have left her killers to God.
The remains of Deborah were laid to rest in her hometown, Tungan Magajiya in the Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State Saturday evening.
Still saddened by last week’s gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto. Everything must be done to ensure the murderers are not only swiftly brought to justice, but that justice is done. Reoccurrence must also be prevented. pic.twitter.com/QV6NjquKeU
— EU in Nigeria 🇪🇺🇳🇬 (@EUinNigeria) May 18, 2022
She was killed and set ablaze on Thursday by her fellow students for allegedly making a blasphemous statement on a WhatsApp group against Prophet Mohammad.
Reacting to the death of their daughter, the bereaved parents said they have nothing to say or do regarding the loss of their child, but have decided to leave everything in the hands of God.
Her father, Mr Emmanuel Garba, a security guard with the Niger State Water Works Cooperation at Tungan-Magajiya said, “We can’t say or do anything, except to take it easy as an act of God. We have left all to God, we have decided to take it like that.” Read online...



 

Alliance No More

 

By The Freethought Prophet

 
Atheist Alliance International was formed as an alliance of national atheist groups from a wide range of countries across the globe. It was what the title of the organisation said it was. A set of Bylaws were accepted by the United Nations and the Council of Europe, to ensure that AAI could express views in an international forum that represented the democratic consensus of the alliance. However, AAI is no longer an alliance of groups. It is a corrupt little Boy’s Club that is controlled and operated by a handful for people, to serve the interests of those individuals. In fact, we now know that this Boy’s Club were secretly arranging between themselves who would have the Officer roles, before the national member groups were even informed that there would be a façade of an election.
Yesterday, the atheist groups in Latin America dissociated themselves from AAI. Seven different national atheist groups together issued the statement below, which is utterly scathing. It describes in detail the corrupt processes by which the Boy’s Club deliberately bypassed the democratic wishes of the member groups, in order to divide up the Officer roles between themselves in secret.
Before a corrupt cabal turned an international democratic alliance into their own little Boy’s Club, all AAI Board positions were elected by the members through a secret ballot, which was managed by an independent returning officer. What can be seen from the statement above is that the new Officer roles were filled not just before the member groups had voted; not just before the member groups had been informed of who the candidates were; not just before the nomination period for new candidates had closed; but even before the member groups were told about the pretence of an election. National member groups are supposed to first elect a Board, and then only once elected that new Board should consider its composition and vote among each other on who the Officer roles will be assigned to. In contrast, the Boy’s Club had already decided among themselves that David Orenstein would be the new President, even before the member groups were informed about the sham election.
The Boy’s Club was transitioning David Orenstein into the position of President in secret, while the national member groups were being fed the fiction that they could think about who they might want to nominate for Board positions. The fix was in behind the scenes, and the Latin American International Atheist Coalition has also described who within the Boy’s Club was involved. Unknown to the member groups, even before an election had been announced those illustrated below were proposing and seconding people to assign Officer roles among themselves, so that control of AAI could be retained within the Boy’s Club. Read more...




 
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