Secular Sunday #16 – News from the four corners of the world (and Achill)

Welcome to the latest Secular Sunday, the weekly newsletter of Atheist Ireland.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • International Blasphemy News


  • Last Tuesday the Minister for Education & Skills released the Report from the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism. (Press Release. Report.)
    Over the next few weeks Atheist Ireland will be examining the report in detail and seeking clarification on various recommendations. A preliminary response from our Education Officer Jane Donnelly can be found here.
  • The Global Atheist Convention 2012 has been taking place this weekend in Melbourne, Australia. Pretend you were there by watching all the YouTube videos of the event, or read Bruce Everett’s report. We’ll be looking at the various videos and reports of the event and highlighting the best ones in coming issues. If you were lucky enough to really be there, let us know.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday 19 April, 6:30 pm, Friends House, 173-77 Euston Road, London, England. (map)
    Michael Nugent will be debating with Sami Zaatari of the Muslim Debate Initiative on the topic: “Is religion less relevant to modern society?”. Admission is free so if you happen to be in the London area on Thursday, do drop in.
  • Thursday 19 April, 7:30 pm, The Bankers, Trinity St., Dublin 2. (map)
    Atheists in the Pub. Stephen Duggan will be discussing religiosity in rural Ireland. Steve hails from Craggy Achill Island and so has first-hand experience of the weirdness of life beyond the Pale. Facebook event page
  • Sunday 29 April, 12:00 noon, The Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Co. Galway (map)
    The monthly meeting of Humanists West, a Galway-based humanist group. Facebook event page

International Blasphemy News

Like Ireland, a lot of countries have laws against blasphemy. Unlike in Ireland, however, not everybody regards these laws as embarrassing and archaic. The following is a sample of recent blasphemy-related news from around the world.

  • On 10 March, Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International, flew to Mumbai at the request of a TV channel, to investigate a “miracle” in a Catholic Church. He discovered that a “weeping” crucifix was in fact merely a consequence of faulty drainage and capillary action. Rather than thanking him and calling a plumber, the Catholic Church has demanded his arrest on the charge of blasphemy and he may be arrested at any moment. Further details and updates available from Rationalist International.
  • In Pakistan, an elderly man, acquitted on blasphemy charges due to lack of evidence was shot dead by his accuser. Read more
  • Earlier this week, the Kuwaiti parliament voted in favour of a legal amendment which could make blasphemy – already illegal – a capital offence. Read more.
  • Meanwhile in Indonesia, Alexander Aan, arrested in February for “insulting” Islam by stating that he is an atheist, is still in prison. He  is in the early stages of his trial. Read the latest update on his case here.

While our own blasphemy law is merely an object of ridicule and unlikely ever to be enforced, it helps enable these sorts of behaviour by supporting the case that blasphemy is a serious crime that should be punished by the state. Atheist Ireland will continue our efforts to push for a referendum to remove the requirement for a blasphemy law from the constitution.

Until next Sunday, take care,

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday


  1. Avatar
    TomK April 15, 2012

    Derek great issue.

  2. Avatar
    Feardorcha April 16, 2012

    Thanks for the link to Rationalist International and the Indian guru-buster.
    It’s a great newsletter with lots of good ideas for AI – and Secular Sunday is pretty neat as well.
    “Rationalist” is a useful name where “atheist” might have a negative impact.
    I might use it on the schoolteachers next time.

  3. Avatar
    JoK April 16, 2012

    Loving Secular Sunday, thanks very much, it can be isolating being an atheist “beyond the pale” especially away from any of the cities, thank the scientists and engineers and inventors for the internet!