Campaign for a Secular Irish Constitution

Today is International Blasphemy Day, administered by the Center For Inquiry as part of its Campaign for Free Expression. Atheist Ireland is an advocacy group for an ethical and secular Ireland: see details in these Irish Times articles on the Irish blasphemy law and our first AGM.

Atheist Ireland is seeking your help today to launch and shape a new long-term campaign with two important aims: to repeal the new Irish blasphemy law and to attain a secular Irish Constitution. Specifically, we are asking you to do three things: send us a message of support, get actively involved in shaping this project, and lobby to persuade Irish politicians to pursue these policies.

We will soon be holding public meetings around Ireland to launch this campaign. We want it to include religious and nonreligious people working together, within Ireland and with international support. The campaign has one common aim that transcends any other differences we may have: that all Irish citizens, of all beliefs and none, can live together in equality, with the State being neutral on matters of religion.

In recent decades, several independent and all-party committees (most whose members were Christians) have repeatedly called for an end to discrimination against nonreligious citizens in our Constitution. Not only has this not been done, but a new religious crime has now been created. The blasphemy law is the final straw. We need a secular Irish Constitution, and we need it now. Please help to make this happen.

Our Immediate Aim: Repeal the Blasphemy Law

The Defamation Act 2009 makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine, after the Minister for Justice signs the commencement order in mid-October. Blasphemy is defined as “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion” with safeguards to make it harder to prosecute.

Regardless of the detail, it is wrong in principle for a modern democratic republic to have any type of blasphemy law. Theological thought-crimes belong in the past. Religious and nonreligious people alike should be protected from harm and incitement to harm, but religious and nonreligious ideas alike should be open to any criticism. That is how human knowledge progresses. Blasphemy laws discriminate against nonreligious citizens, by protecting the fundamental beliefs of religious citizens only.

This law also has serious international impacts. Irish citizens could face blasphemy charges elsewhere under the European Arrest Warrant. Also, Islamic States are lobbying at the UN to make defamation of religion a crime internationally. Ireland has voted along with the other EU States against this, because Islamic States can use blasphemy laws to justify religious persecution. These Islamic States can now point to a modern pluralist Western State passing a new blasphemy law in the 21st century.

Our Overall Aim: A Secular Irish Constitution

We have a blasphemy law because the Irish Constitution of 1937 says we should have one. And our Constitution also discriminates against nonreligious citizens in many other ways. For example, you cannot become President or a Judge unless you take a religious oath asking God to direct and sustain your work. So up to a quarter of a million Irish people cannot hold these offices without swearing a lie. This is contrary to Ireland’s obligations under the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Preamble states that all authority of the State comes from, and all actions of the State must be referred to, the Most Holy Trinity. Article 44 states that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God and that the State shall hold His Name in reverence. This is not merely an assertion of the right of citizens to worship this god. It is an assertion of the right of this god to be worshipped by citizens.

The Constitution also contains many other references to this god and to religion generally. Our national parliament reflects this by starting each day’s business with a prayer explicitly asking the Christian God to direct all of their actions. Under this guidance, they have legislated for many public policies that are heavily influenced by religion.

We should be removing these 1930s religious references from our Constitution, not creating new crimes to enforce them seventy years later. A modern secular Constitution would allow all citizens, whether religious or nonreligious, to live together as equals with the State being neutral on matters of religion.

Our Request to You: Please Help This Campaign

The blasphemy law is the final straw. We now need a secular Irish Constitution. We will soon be holding public meetings around the country to shape this campaign for equality for and by all Irish citizens, of any or no religious beliefs. But we will be much more likely to succeed if we have national and international support.

Here are three ways that you can help:

One, please send us a message of support. Just a few lines will do. We want to be able to show that there is a wide support for these ideals.

Two, please let us know if you would like to get actively involved in any way. You are more than welcome to help shape how this project evolves.

Three, in whatever way you can, please help to lobby Irish politicians at national and international level to implement these policies.

This will be a lengthy campaign, but a very worthwhile one that you can be proud to have played your part in. We look forward to hearing from you.

by Michael Nugent

Atheist Ireland


  1. Avatar
    Neal O September 30, 2009

    Dreadful law. Keep up your fight.

  2. Avatar
    DavidMWW September 30, 2009

    Good luck with this! We really need a secular constitution in the UK, too.

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    Gordon September 30, 2009

    Happy Blasphemy Day. I was reading the preamble to our Constitution today and it occurs to me that the Constitution itself is now elible to be prosecuted under the Blasphemy Law!

    Keep up the good work, we need a referendum to remove these anacronisms from our Constitution!

  4. Avatar
    The Beer Nut September 30, 2009

    Delighted to see this kicking off.

  5. Avatar
    Chris Hughes September 30, 2009

    Cheering you on from across the water – this ‘blasphemy’ law must be the ultimate in Irish Jokes…

  6. Avatar
    Russ Painter September 30, 2009

    I think this is very important. Let me know what I can do to help.

    BTW: All religion is a lie, and all gods are myths. I hope that was blasphemous enough. Anything more specific might have missed one of them.

    Happy Blasphemy Day to everyone!

  7. Avatar
    Stuart Hartill September 30, 2009

    Best wishes for the campaign from another small island in the Irish Sea where religion is the problem, not the answer!
    As a great Irishman once said: ‘”the great only appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise.”

  8. Avatar
    Paul Dunbar September 30, 2009

    I fully support this campaign. It is long overdue and I wish you the best of luck.

  9. Avatar
    Adam September 30, 2009

    As a christian from the U.S., I completely support this. Seems absurd for any religion to censor free speech. Good luck!

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    Gerard O'Shea September 30, 2009

    there is a brand new American book that the Muslim Terrorist and radical just hate, an insult at every page.


    Did you know that Mohammad was a perverted, drunken pimp who was ” too stupid and incompetent to run a fig and cocoanut stand, never mind an army or religion”

    The brand new book, available on, humorously slanders the purported early tenets of Islam. Many Islamic extremists and terrorists might not appreciate the lampooning of the religion (or the pictures of Fatima and Mohammad on the front and back covers of the book), but this book is a challenge to the extremist who seem to demand that American Freedom of Speech does not apply to them and that the world must kowtow to their brand of religion while they are free to trash all others.

    How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad’s Daughter Tells It All by Noor Barack

    Noor Barack, the author does wish to publicize the book; however the author must recognize that a Fatwa will be issued as soon as the book reaches the Terroristic Islamists and must have enhanced security. Therefore the author will receive email at for a short period. If one wishes to talk via telephone please email a telephone number of a specific person to be called. Thank you, also if the book’s front cover did not transmit it can be easily seen at which is the only outlet currently selling “How Fatima Started Islam: Mohammad’s Daughter Tells It All.”

  11. Avatar
    Leo September 30, 2009

    We’re quite lucky really.
    They’re only going to ruin you financially and lock you up.
    It’s not as if they’re still burning people at the stake for saying:
    Baby Selling Child Raping Money Hiding Irish Catholic Church Owning And Running The State Schools.
    A secular constitution is our human right.

  12. Avatar
    Sandra October 01, 2009

    I’m fully in favour of this campaign. I was never embarrassed to be Irish before but I was when that medieval law was reintroduced. It needs to be removed from our constitution and our constitution needs to one for all citizens regardless of belief or non belief.

  13. Avatar
    Tim October 01, 2009

    Good luck with the campaign. I support you 100% in your fight against the pillocks who could make such a law in a civilised country.

  14. Avatar
    Frank October 02, 2009

    I fully support this campaign. How any person can trust a government who believe that they can talk to magical sky gods is unbelievably crazy to me. It’s 2009 please wake up and embrace reality.

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    Marcus October 03, 2009

    I fully support this movement. As I understand it, the blasphemy law is a stopgap legal solution to a broader constitutional issue, rather than anything based in rationality or equality for both religious / non-religious people. All beliefs should be equally protected; all should be open to criticism, objectively. Good on ya for getting this together – sorry to see there aren’t more replies….

  16. Avatar
    Reddington Woods October 03, 2009

    Ironically this Blasphemy law will galvanise all free-thinkers and democrats against our out-dated constitution. Good luck with the campaign.

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    Rachel October 05, 2009

    You have my complete support with this campaign, I’d love to get involved in anything you have coming up and I’ll keep an eye on the site for events in my area. I’m pleased to see there are (at least a few) clear-thinking, like-minded Irish people and it makes me proud of my country, instead of the embarrassment I usually feel when I hear about ridiculous laws like the blasphemy law being introduced.

    Remember: “Blasphemy is a victimless crime”.

  18. Avatar
    Big Joe January 03, 2010

    This new Blasphemy Law is the most outrageous law I’ve ever heard of in the modern world. I once went to a Christian college, and the more I studied the Bible (I didn’t have time to read other ridiculous works of fiction), the more I realized that it contradicts itself thousands of times, and that the ignorant, jealous, monstrous, and ultimately impotent god of the Old Testament is totally different from the androgenous false god of the New Testament. He didn’t die for anyone’s sins, and if he thought so he was certifiably insane. It amazes me that his ragtag bunch of beggars, cowards, and female fans could actually start a worldwide religion that has been the most violent and asanine entity in history. If people want to believe in this trash or any other, then good for them, but as they tell us how we are going to hell for not believing, we should be able to tell them to go to hell for spewing their hate-mongering filth.

  19. Avatar
    John January 11, 2010

    You have my wholehearted support for this campaign. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that the kinds of laws which should be being repealed are instead being put on the statute books. Good luck!

  20. Avatar
    Dave Treleaven January 17, 2010

    We in canada also have a somewhat “secret” reference to an imaginary being that most people are unaware of.
    The constitution repatriated from the UK in the 8O’s includes god in the preamble….which I am certain that the general populace in wholly unaware of…I questioned my MP on this and he advised that it was inserted by “interested parties”

    The lyrics to O’ Canada…our national anthem…mysteriously underwent a revision in the 8O’s as well to change one of the refrains from “Oh Cannada glorious and free” to “god keep our land glorious and free”.,,,they did not ask if we as a nation would care for the alteration …….it was done under the cloak of liberalism …in the dead of night ….
    But that is the incedious nature of religion ….it dares not expose itself to reason in broad daylight it is inherently secretive and subversive…after all would you like the world to know how crazy your brother may be?

    We also have a problem with religios schools jn Canada …only the catholics get financial support here ….no other faith has a government funded ideology to indoctrinate the young

    All these elements of dogma centered belief will one day be corrected as Canada moves closer and closer to the seculariisation of itself and casts aside superstition and fantasy.

    Many here applaud the work found on this site and others like it that will eventually rid the globe of the scourge that calls itself ………faith.