Atheist Ireland Declaration on Religion in Public Life

At our AGM last Saturday, Atheist Ireland adopted the following amended version of the Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life. The original version was written and adopted by delegates at the world atheist conference “Gods and Politics” held in Copenhagen from 18-20 June 2010.

This version is based on feedback on the original from various sources. It is written more concisely, clarifies some ambiguous phrases, and categorises the points into groups. Like the original, it is a starting point for discussion and not an unalterable set of principles.

Declaration on Religion in Public Life

We support this amended version of the Copenhagen Declaration on Religion in Public Life. We invite other people and groups to also support it.

Personal Freedoms

  • Freedom of conscience, religion and belief are unlimited. Freedom to practice religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights of others.
  • All people should be free to participate equally in public life, and should be treated equally before the law and in the democratic process.
  • Freedom of expression should be limited only as prescribed in international law. All blasphemy laws should be repealed.

Secular Democracy

  • Society should be based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Public policy should be formed by applying reason to evidence.
  • Government should be secular. The state should be strictly neutral in matters of religion, favoring none and discriminating against none.
  • Religions should have no special financial consideration in public life, such as tax-free status for religious activities, or grants to promote religion or run faith schools.

Secular Education

  • State education should be secular. Children should be taught about the diversity of religious beliefs in an objective manner, with no faith formation in school hours.
  • Children should be educated in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge. Science should be taught free from religious interference.

One Law For All

  • There should be one law for all, democratically decided and evenly enforced, with no jurisdiction for religious courts to settle civil matters or family disputes.
  • The law should not criminalize private conduct that respects the rights of others because the doctrine of any religion deems such conduct to be immoral.
  • Employers or social service providers with religious beliefs should not be allowed to discriminate on any grounds not essential to the job in question.

“File:The Black Diamond Royal Danish Library Copenhagen Slotsholmen 2014 01.jpg” by Julian Herzog (Website) is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Atheist Ireland


  1. Avatar
    Adam M August 20, 2010

    Hear hear. Now how do we get that into the constitution?