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Atheist Ireland and the United Nations  - Secular Sunday #548 || 26 June, 2022

Editorial

Atheist Ireland and the United Nations

 
The United Nations Human Rights Committee is questioning Ireland in July about our human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR. As we always do, Atheist Ireland has made a submission about freedom of conscience, religion, and belief. Some of the issues that we are raising are as follows:

We want the State to commit to ensuring that every child has the right to access a local publicly funded school without religious discrimination, and to correct its false statement to the UN that the government’s policy includes opening non-denominational schools.

As an immediate step, the State should respect and vindicate the right of children who exercise their constitutional right to not attend religious instruction, and provide such children with supervision or an alternative curriculum subject.

The State should ensure that schools provide a neutral studying environment, outside the confines of religious instruction classes that students can choose to not attend, with particular emphasis on objective sex eduction classes.

The State should commit to holding a referendum to remove religious oaths from the Constitution and replace them with a single declaration that does not reveal the religious or nonreligious beliefs of the person making it.

The State should amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act so that minorities can train and gain employment as teachers without being legally obliged to uphold a specific religious ethos and teach religious instruction particularly in publicly funded schools.

As always, you can help us to continue our work 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

 

Atheist Ireland raises religious discrimination with the UN Human Rights Committee



The United Nations Human Rights Committee is questioning Ireland in July about our human rights record under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or ICCPR.
Atheist Ireland has made the following submission about Freedom of Conscience, Religion, and Belief. You can also read it here on the United Nations website.
Contents
  • 1. Introduction to Atheist Ireland
  • 2. Our recommendations based on Paragraph 20
  • 3. List of Issues Paragraph 20
  • 4. Education (Admission to Schools) Act
  • 5. Other measures to improve access to secular schools
  • 5(a) No secular or non-denominational schools
  • 5(b) The right of parents to freedom of conscience
  • 5(c) The right to a neutral studying environment
  • 6. Religious Oaths in the Constitution
  • 7. Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act 1998
1. Introduction to Atheist Ireland
Atheist Ireland is an Irish advocacy group. We promote atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism, and we promote an ethical, secular society where the State does not discriminate against or support or finance or give special treatment to any religion or belief.
Atheists are a minority in Ireland. These are the last census figures in 2016 under the category for Religion states (figures in thousands): Roman Catholic 3,729.1 – Church of Ireland 126.4 – Muslim (Islamic) 63.4 – Orthodox 62.2 – Christian 37.4 – Presbyterian 24.2 – Hindu 14.3 – Apostolic or Pentecostal 13.4 – Other 97.7 – No religion 468.4 – Not stated 125.3.
Since being formed in late 2008, we have campaigned for a secular human rights based Irish Constitution, parliament, laws, and government, with particular emphasis on our education system which discriminates systemically on the ground of religion. We are part of the dialogue process between the Government and religious and nonreligious philosophical bodies.
We led a successful decade-long campaign to remove the crime of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution. The 37th Amendment to the Constitution Bill was brought to Dáil Éireann and the Irish public passed the amendment in a referendum in 2018. The Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Act was passed in 2019.
We base our policies on human rights standards. We have addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council and we take part in sessions of various UN Committees. We have successfully had human rights based recommendations made based on our submissions to these committees. We have also made submissions to the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
2. Our recommendations based on paragraph 20
20 (a) Part 1 Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018
The State should commit to ensuring that every child has the right to access a local publicly funded school without religious discrimination or being threatened with refusal of access if they don’t uphold the schools ethos.
The State should ensure that schools and patron bodies comply with Section 62(7)(n) of the Education (Admissions to schools) Act 2018 by actually writing into their admission policies the details of the arrangements for children who are not attending religious instruction, and not by saying that parents have to meet with the school principal to discuss it.
20 (a) Part 2 Other measures to improve access to secular schools
The State should correct its false statement to the Committee that the government’s policy is to have 400 ‘multi-denominational or non-denominational’ schools by 2030, and acknowledge that this policy refers only to ‘multi-denominational’ schools.
The State should commit to establishing secular or non-denominational schools at primary and second level, and not merely multi-denominational schools.
The State should legally and clearly define the terms denominational, multi-denominational, interdenominational, and non-denominational, as per the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission Report ‘Religion & Education; A human Rights Perspective’.
The State should provide statutory guidelines to ensure that publicly funded schools:
Respect and vindicate the positive rights of minorities to freedom of conscience and respect for their religious or nonreligious philosophical convictions.
Respect and vindicate the right of children who exercise their constitutional right to not attend religious instruction, and provide such children with supervision or an alternative curriculum subject.
Provide a neutral studying environment, outside the confines of religious instruction classes that students can choose to not attend.
20 (b) Religious Oaths in the Constitution
The State should commit to holding a referendum to remove religious oaths from the Constitution and replace them with a single declaration that does not reveal the religious or nonreligious beliefs of the person making it.
The State should reverse its claim, made at the European Court, that these oaths are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
20 (c) Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act 1998
The State should amend Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act so that minorities can train and gain employment as teachers without being legally obliged to uphold a specific religious ethos and teach religious instruction particularly in publicly funded schools.
Read more...

 
 


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  $37,025 to 1290 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 1927 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 4,112 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

 

Number of women and girls travelling to Great Britain for abortions rising

 

By author

 
MORE THAN 200 women and girls travelled to Great Britain for abortions last year, an increase compared to 2020, figures show.
Some 206 women and girls with addresses in the Republic of Ireland sought abortion care, with a further 161 women and girls travelling from Northern Ireland.
The data was published by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care on Tuesday.
The number of pregnant women and girls seeking abortion care from Northern Ireland significantly dropped, with 371 travelling in 2020, compared to 161 last year.
However, the number of women and girls travelling from the Republic increased by ten compared to 2020, when there were travel restrictions in place.
The vast majority of women from the Republic were over 12 weeks pregnant and ineligible for termination services in Ireland. Some 50% were foetal anomaly cases.
Ireland has the highest number of women who travelled to England for abortion care services, accounting for 33%.
The number of women who travelled from Northern Ireland accounted for 26%.
Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) chief executive Niall Behan said: “Legal abortion has transformed reproductive healthcare in Ireland, but 206 women travelled to the UK for abortion care in 2021.
“This tells us, unequivocally, that the law is not good enough. The 2018 Act is denying care to women and girls and forcing them to seek abortion services in the UK. This is an unacceptable injustice. Read more...

 

Debunk: No, this photo doesn’t show a ‘bloody’ eucharist at a Mayo church

 

By Céimin Burke

 
A PHOTO THAT has been shared thousands of times on social media in recent days does not show a consecrated communion host that turned red after being dropped in water in a church in Mayo.
A Facebook post sharing the photo claims a “eucharist miracle” recently took place at St Joseph’s Church in Aghamore, Co Mayo.
“A Eucharistic Minister accidentally dropped a Consecrated Host to the floor whilst administering Holy Communion. The Indian Parish Priest put it into a small bowl of water to allow it to dissolve,” the post explains.
“Upon checking it sometime later he discovered the water was blood coloured. He added some more water and then later saw that the Host had taken on the appearance of bloody flesh tissue,” it adds.
According to Catholic Church doctrine, communion bread and wine is transformed into the body and blood of Christ following a eucharistic prayer.
The Facebook message has racked up over 3,400 shares and 1,600 likes along with hundreds of comments, many of which affirm the claim that it is a miracle. Read more...



 

The real Irish revolution has been occurring since the 1990s

 

By Fintan O’Toole

 
If you hear or read the phrase “the Irish revolution”, the chances are that you will think of the period of violent upheaval that culminated in the foundation of the State a hundred years ago. But perhaps we should be thinking instead of a much more recent period of transformation.
The paradox of the national revolution a century ago is that it changed so little in ordinary Irish life. The way we lived in the 1950s would not have seemed dramatically different to the way we were in the 1920s.
This was partly because the biggest social revolution – the transfer of land ownership from the Ascendancy to their former tenants – had already happened. It was partly, too, a result of the political marginalisation of the feminist and socialist radicals who had come to the fore in the years of turmoil.
But mostly, the extraordinary continuity of life was rooted in three big factors.
Mass emigration, established as a norm since the early 19th century, remained as an overwhelming fact of life. The economy became, after partition removed the Northern industrial powerhouses, even more agrarian, and therefore even more dependent on the British food market. And the institutional power of the Catholic church was, if anything, intensified.
[ Irish people are much better educated than 30 years ago, more worldly and as likely to be found in the local gym as the local pub ]
All three of these forces have been completely reversed over the last 30 years. Perhaps, then, the real Irish revolution is the one that has taken place since the early 1990s.
This year’s B&A Sign of the Times report provides a useful reminder of how radically altered Irish life has been since 1991 – and some intriguing hints as to how our mentalities may (or may not) have shifted as a result.
If, like me, you are in your 60s, you can divide your life into two halves. In the first half, the world of your parents did not seem all that remote. In the second half, the world of your own childhood began to seem very remote indeed. Read more...

 
 

International


 
 

Women’s rights shattered as US Supreme Court overturns right to abortion

 

By Humanists UK

 
Today, the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade – the 50 year-old ruling which made access to abortion a constitutional right in the United States. By a margin of six to three, the Supreme Court judges removed this right, instead allowing individual states to regulate abortion access. 26 states are expected to shortly ban abortion. Humanists UK has long campaigned in favour of abortion rights in the UK. Today it has condemned the ruling which will lead to a return to American women dying due to the lack of abortion provision.
Thirteen states already have anti-choice laws on the statute books that will immediately ban access to abortion and it is expected that another 13 will introduce new restrictions or total bans as a result of this ruling. Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion care in the US, has estimated that this ruling will result in loss of abortion care to 36 million women.
Humanists UK’s Senior Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, 
‘This is an incredibly sad day not just for US women, who have lost the most important safeguard of their right to bodily autonomy and to determine their own healthcare needs. It is also sad for all women, as this judgment is likely to galvanise anti-choice activists in many countries and strengthen calls for further restrictions.
‘It is a huge step back for women’s rights. It shouldn’t need stating, but it does: women deserve the rights of ownership of their own bodies, and to determine what health care they receive at all times. Such rights should not cease nor be lessened because a woman is pregnant.
‘The evidence is indisputable that restricting abortion access does not stop women from seeking abortions. It merely makes them unsafe. The World Health Organisation estimates that each year, between 5–13% of maternal deaths worldwide can be attributed to unsafe abortions. Until now very few of these women were American women. This is now likely to change.
‘In the face of such a disaster, we must not give up. On the contrary, we must redouble our efforts to fight for women’s rights. For us, that means starting with Northern Ireland.’
Just yesterday, the UK Parliament passed regulations enabling the UK Government to bring about abortion access in Northern Ireland, which the Northern Ireland Health Minister had been blocking.
Notes:
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
Read more about this judgment.
Read more about our work on work on abortion.
We campaign in favour of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, in particular with respect to abortion. Our position on abortion is ‘pro-choice’ and we believe that contraception and high-quality, comprehensive relationships and sex education should be widely and freely available.
We have worked through the UK Parliament and by intervening in all recent legal cases to extend abortion access in Northern Ireland, including intervening in the Supreme Court case brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in 2018 surrounding abortion in cases of sexual crime and foetal abnormality, the High Court cases brought by Sarah Ewart and by a mother facing prosecution in Northern Ireland for procuring abortion pills for her underage daughter in 2019. We campaigned in favour of the Northern Ireland (Executive) Formation Act 2019 which made provision for legal abortions. Read more...

 
 

Parents at Sydney Anglican school St Catherine’s reject ‘hurtful’ anti-same-sex marriage statement 

 

By Caitlin Cassidy

 
Parents at Sydney Anglican school St Catherine’s are preparing for a fight after publicly rejecting a new requirement for incoming principals to sign a statement that marriage is between a man and a woman, with some same-sex parents saying the statement is deeply hurtful.
St Catherine’s principal is leaving and her successor – to be appointed by a council dominated by representatives of the anti-same-sex marriage Anglican church diocese of Sydney – will be the first principal required to sign the relatively new rule in place for diocese-run schools.
With term two finishing on Friday, and a minimum two terms’ notice required to announce a new head, parents expect the incoming principal will be announced imminently.
One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, is part of a same-sex relationship and said the incoming principal would face “stark opposition” if they didn’t align with the school’s values of inclusion and diversity.
“It’s a very inclusive, diverse school – it’s a loving and accepting school community … we want it to remain that way,” she said.
The parent is part of the Love School Group, a coalition of parents lobbying for the new head to reject the statement of faith and sign an inclusion and diversity policy.
They say they weren’t consulted on the revision and only became aware of it through an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald in May, despite paying annual fees of up to $37,000.
The parent said if the requirement was in place when she was enrolling her daughter at the school her decision “would’ve been very different”.
“It was brought in without our knowledge or any school community consultation,” she said. “It’s completely out of touch.”
The parent said the revelations were “very hurtful” to other same-sex families at the school, as well as LGBTQ+ students and staff.
“Our kids would be taught a doctrine contrary to law,” the parent said.
“To have a new head publicly sign a statement that doesn’t recognise my family structure is humiliating and deeply upsetting. It’s very hurtful.”
While same-sex marriage has been legal since 2017, current legislation permits religious schools to discriminate against students and fire staff based on their sexual orientation. Read more...



 

Belief in God in U.S. Dips to 81%, a New Low

 

By Jeffrey M. Jones

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The vast majority of U.S. adults believe in God, but the 81% who do so is down six percentage points from 2017 and is the lowest in Gallup's trend. Between 1944 and 2011, more than 90% of Americans believed in God.
Gallup's May 2-22 Values and Beliefs poll finds 17% of Americans saying they do not believe in God.
Gallup first asked this question in 1944, repeating it again in 1947 and twice each in the 1950s and 1960s. In those latter four surveys, a consistent 98% said they believed in God. When Gallup asked the question nearly five decades later, in 2011, 92% of Americans said they believed in God.
A subsequent survey in 2013 found belief in God dipping below 90% to 87%, roughly where it stood in three subsequent updates between 2014 and 2017 before this year's drop to 81%.
Gallup has also in recent years asked other questions aimed at measuring belief in God or a higher power. All find the vast majority of Americans saying they believe; when given the option, 5% to 10% have said they were "unsure."
Younger, Liberal Americans Least Likely to Believe in God
Belief in God has fallen the most in recent years among young adults and people on the left of the political spectrum (liberals and Democrats). These groups show drops of 10 or more percentage points comparing the 2022 figures to an average of the 2013-2017 polls.
Most other key subgroups have experienced at least a modest decline, although conservatives and married adults have had essentially no change.
The groups with the largest declines are also the groups that are currently least likely to believe in God, including liberals (62%), young adults (68%) and Democrats (72%). Belief in God is highest among political conservatives (94%) and Republicans (92%), reflecting that religiosity is a major determinant of political divisions in the U.S. Read more...



 

Islamic school leader banned for misogynistic and homophobic sermons

 

By The National Secular Society

 
The National Secular Society has welcomed a decision to ban a former faith school proprietor after he published hateful sermons about women and gay people.
The Department for Education today announced Waheed Alam, also known as Abu Khadeejah, has been prohibited from managing schools for engaging in conduct that is "aimed at undermining the fundamental value of individual liberty".
Alam is the former proprietor of Redstone Educational Academy, an independent Islamic school in Birmingham.
The DfE said Alam produced a number of online sermons and articles between 2015 and 2019 which "fail to show tolerance of, and respect for, the rights of others".
This includes material expressing views that seek to "restrict the activities of women" and "denigrate and demonise gay men".
Alam's views came to light during an Ofsted inspection in 2019, as part of Redstone Educational Academy's move to register separate boys' and girls' schools.
Redstone Educational Academy had been segregating boys and girls within the same school despite a 2017 judgement finding such segregation to be unlawful discrimination.
The inspection found the proposed girls' school was "unlikely to meet" all independent school standards because the proprietor "publicly extols views that should not be promoted by the owner of an independent school in England".
Ofsted said Alam's views are "well known, published widely and pupils are more able to access them as the proprietor is known to them".
Ofsted cited material published by Alam that equated homosexuality with paedophilia.
He also said Muslim scholars "state that homosexuality comes about due to a corruption of the natural state which can be triggered by various events", including "school indoctrination of children from an early age that goes against nature, health and wellbeing". Read more...



 

Supreme Court OKs use of public money for religious education

 

By Pete Willliams

 
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that state programs providing money for public school tuition cannot exclude schools that offer religious instruction.
The decision relaxed long-standing restrictions on using taxpayer money to pay for religious education, further lowering the wall of separation between church and state. 
 
The vote was 6-3, with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.
At issue was a state program in Maine that made taxpayer money available to families who live in remote areas without public high schools. Under the state law, they could use the money for their children's tuition at public or private schools in other communities, but not for sectarian schools, defined as those that promote a particular faith or belief system and teach material “through the lens of this faith.”  
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said Maine’s program “promotes stricter separation of church and state than the federal Constitution requires.”
The tuition program is not neutral, he said, because “the state pays tuition for certain students at private schools — so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion.”
He also noted that the state money does not go directly to to schools but flows “through the independent choices of private benefit recipients.”  
Two years ago, in a case from Montana, the court ruled that when states make tuition money generally available, they cannot exclude schools that are run by religious institutions — that have, in other words, a religious status. But that decision left unresolved the issue of whether it would matter if the schools actually offered religious instruction. 
The court has now answered that question, saying it doesn’t matter. Read online...




 

Buffy Sainte-Marie wants more than just an apology from the Pope

 

By Greg Hobbs

 
Songwriter, educator and human rights advocate Buffy Sainte-Marie says the Pope's upcoming visit to Canada and expected apology for the church's involvement in the residential school system won't mean a thing if he doesn't call for the dissolution of the Doctrine of Discovery.
"The apology is just the beginning, of course," she said.
The doctrine is an international framework based on a series of decrees from the Pope, called "papal bulls," that were released in the 1400s and 1500s. This framework laid the legal and moral foundation for how Canada and other countries came to be colonized by European settlers.
As Sainte-Marie put it, "The Doctrine of Discovery essentially says it's okay if you're a [Christian] European explorer … to go anywhere in the world and either convert people and enslave, or you've got to kill them."
As noted by the Assembly of First Nations, legal arguments relying on the Doctrine of Discovery continue to affect modern court rulings. As laid out in a 2018 document, the AFN says that doctrine is the root cause of multiple historical and ongoing injustices against Indigenous peoples.
 
Saint-Marie made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with The National's Adrienne Arsenault. The two discussed recent headlines related to Indigenous people, as well as her long career as an artist and activist. Read more...


 

UN tells Chile to examine clerical child abuse following NSS report

 

By The National Secular Society

 
A United Nations committee has called on Chile to investigate all cases of child abuse in the Catholic Church following an intervention from the National Secular Society.
In its concluding observations on child rights in Chile, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has urged Chile to establish "an independent, impartial, adequately funded truth commission to examine all cases of abuse of children in institutional settings, including within the Catholic church".
In April the NSS called on the UNCRC to recommend an official inquiry into institutional responses to child abuse, as part of the committee's upcoming review of each state party's record on children's rights.
The NSS said Chile had not responded to the UNCRC's request, prompted by an earlier NSS submission, for more information on developing strategies for preventing sexual abuse of children, including within the Catholic Church.
The names of around 360 people involved with the Church accused of child abuse have been recorded by an abuse survivors' network, and 33 religious orders are implicated.
The NSS said Catholic clerics appeared to enjoy "near impunity" from criminal law regarding abuse allegations, an endemic problem in South America.
NSS comment
NSS president Keith Porteous Wood said: "This is a welcome statement from the committee.
"The specific reference to the Catholic Church is encouraging because it is almost certainly the worst perpetrator of institutional child abuse in Chile. We are optimistic of the UNCRC's recommendation bearing fruit as Chile has a radical young new president and we have asked campaigners in Chile to follow this up politically.
"For over a decade, the NSS has submitted concerns about clerical abuse of minors in numerous countries around the world when they are being reviewed every five years by the UNCRC. The committee has increasingly taken our concerns on board. We continue to encourage the committee to hold states around the world to account where powerful religious institutions are guilty of enabling abuse." Read more...



 

Supreme Court overturns landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling

 

By Independent.ie Newsdesk

 
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman's constitutional right to an abortion and legalised it nationwide, handing a momentous victory to Republicans and religious conservatives who want to limit or ban the procedure.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling powered by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks. The justices held that the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed abortions performed before a foetus would be viable outside the womb - between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy - was wrongly decided because the U.S. Constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.
A draft version of the ruling indicating the court was likely to overturn Roe was leaked in May, igniting a political firestorm. Mississippi's law had been blocked by lower courts as a violation of Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights.
Jackson Women's Health Organisation, the only abortion clinic remaining in Mississippi, challenged the 2018 law and had the support of Democratic President Joe Biden's administration at the Supreme Court. The law allows abortions when there is a "medical emergency" or a "severe foetal abnormality" but does not have an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
A federal judge in 2018 struck the law down, citing the Roe precedent. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 reached the same conclusion. Read more...



 

Polish parliament rejects bill to liberalise abortion law
 

 

By Daniel Tilles

 
Poland’s parliament has rejected a bill that would have liberalised the country’s abortion law – which is one of the strictest in Europe – by allowing terminations on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A majority of 265 MPs in the 460-seat Sejm voted to reject the legislation. That included almost all members of the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party’s caucus, as well as the centre-right Polish Coalition (KP) and far-right Confederation (Konfederacja), both of which are in opposition.
Most of the 175 votes in favour of accepting the bill for further work following its first reading came from the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) and the Left (Lewica), the two largest opposition groups. The six MPs from Poland 2050 (Polska 2050), another centrist party, were split, with two voting to reject the bill and four to accept it.
The bill in question was submitted as a citizens’ initiative. That is a form of legislation that can be proposed by individuals or groups from outside parliament and must be considered by the Sejm if it attracts at least 100,000 public signatures in support.
In this case, the bill – which was backed by a number of women’s rights and pro-choice groups – had gathered over 200,000 signatures when it was submitted to parliament in March this year.
It proposed to allow women to obtain a state-funded abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy without needing to provide any justification. Later-term abortions would be allowed if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or health or results from a criminal act such as rape, or if a severe birth defect is diagnosed. 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 secularsunday@atheist.ie
 
 
 


Podcasts, Videos and Interviews


Ireland

 
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International

 
Freethought Radio - Makin Mischief
The Friendly Atheist Podcast -
Church/State Separation Is Unconstitutional Now
 


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