Secular Sunday #32 – A Good Society

Welcome to this week’s Secular Sunday.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events


  • Atheist Ireland’s Annual General Meeting has been confirmed for a weekend in mid-September. We haven’t finalised the date because we’re waiting on the availability of Sanal Edamaruku (president of Rationalist International and unrepentant blasphemer), whom we hope to have speaking. The AGM will be held in the morning and will be for Atheist Ireland members only (it will be possible to join on the day). This will be followed by an afternoon session which will be open to the public. We’ll have a confirmed date, location, agenda and speaker list very soon.
  • Our community outreach project is off to a good start. Our Kiva team has raised over US$500 so far in loans for individuals and small businesses in the developing world. We’ve set a goal of $1000 by the end of the month. If you’re new to Kiva your first loan is free so even if money is tight you can help us reach our goal – and more importantly, help people work their way out of poverty – without any cost to yourself. Web app Kiva Lens allows you to filter loans by a number of criteria including the all-important one of whether the field partner is religious.
    We are continuing to look into other ways of fundraising and volunteering. Please email us with any suggestions or come along to our meeting next Sunday.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday 9 August, 7:30 pm, The Bankers, Dublin 2 (map)
    Atheists in the Pub: Difficult Exits. Vahid Bokharaie will discuss being an atheist in Iran while Victor Diac will talk about how close he came to becoming a priest. Plus the comedy stylings of  Edinburgh Fringe veteran and Celebrity Mastermind finalist Abie Philbin Bowman.
  • Sunday 12 August,  location to be confirmed, Dublin
    The second meeting of our Community outreach project. We already have  a number of people involved but would welcome further input from anyone interested in helping out. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for details.
  • Wednesday 15 August, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harrys Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid-West Humanists will be meeting to discuss their campaign for a secular constitution.
  • 31 August – 2 September, Carlingford Heritage Centre, Co. Louth
    All-Ireland Humanist Summer School, organised jointly by the Humanist Association of Ireland and the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland. Facebook event page
  • Saturday 8 September, 1:00 pm, Bórd Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 (map)
    TEDxDublin.  The biggest TEDxDublin to date: 15 speakers will take to the stage to share ideas and explore the unexpected. The theme is ‘A City of Ideas’. Tickets are €30.

That’s it for this week. I’ll leave you with an appropriate quote from the recently departed Gore Vidal:

“The idea of a good society is something you do not need a religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death.” – Gore Vidal, 1926-2012

Till next week,

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday


  1. Avatar
    Feardorcha August 05, 2012

    Where did the name Kiva come from?
    The only meaning I can find is of a Pueblo Indian religious temple where they chop the heads off chickens for their gods.

  2. Avatar
    Feardorcha August 07, 2012
    There is an interesting discussion here on whether Kiva is a scam or not and a Google of Kiva will throw up many more. Personally, I think it’s dodgy and cannot see any reason why an Irish advocacy group for atheism is plugging it.

  3. Avatar
    Feardorcha August 07, 2012

    My Swahili dictionary does not have a word ‘kiva’.
    The common word in Swahili for unity is umoja.

  4. Avatar
    Derek Walsh August 07, 2012

    Feardorcha, you seem to be right about the meaning of Kiva. It appears to be a mistake as discussed briefly here. I’ll see if I can find any more information on this.
    The link you posted contains a complaint that Kiva is a scam because many of the loans charge high interest, and it equates the interest rate with the profit rate. There are very few ventures where gross income is equivalent to profit, and microlending is certainly not one of them. Most of Kiva’s partners are themselves charities, and charge only what is needed to make the project viable. The link contains most of the counter-arguments to the accusation so there’s no need to rehash them here.
    Charity Navigator gives Kiva it’s highest rating.
    Kiva Lens allows the lender to choose their loans based on a number of criteria including profitability so it’s possible to choose only organisations that do not make a profit if that’s a deal-breaker for you.
    Atheist Ireland is suggesting Kiva to our members who wish to do good because we believe it to be a worthwhile cause and a generally well-run ethical organisation. Its current promotion that lets people make their first loan for free allows our members to help someone they wish to help at no cost to themselves.
    As with everything, we encourage people to check things out for themselves before deciding anything. (Some people don’t need encouragement, of course!) Suggestions for other charities to fund are, of course, very welcome.