Secular Sunday #57 – Catholic Schools? Weak!

Time for this week’s Secular Sunday. As has now become traditional, I promise big changes very soon. But not today.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • Blogology


  • Today is the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, a seemingly unnecessary indulgence in a country with an excess of Catholic schools. These schools are not catholic in the sense of all-embracing or universal, but the almost opposite sense of being under the control of the Vatican and its many subsiduaries. Michael Nugent has written about this week of concentrated indoctrination and what it means for non-Catholic parents.
    Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular education system. We have  a website Teach, Don’t Preach (and an accompanying Facebook page) with information and resources for parents who wish to opt their children out of religious indoctrination.
    While we’re waiting for the state to provide a secular education system that respects the constitutional rights of all parents, the best available option is Educate Together.
    The Department of Education is surveying all the parents/guardians of all children aged 0 to 12 years old in a number of areas throughout Ireland asking them what type of primary school they would like their children to attend. If you are a parent in one of the areas being surveyed, we encourage you to complete the survey and vote for an Educate Together school. Read more
    Whether you are in one of the areas being surveyed or not, you can check whether there is an Educate Together school in your area. If not, there may be a start-up group attempting to get one established. If you are a parent or likely to become one, it is in your interest to get involved with one of these groups. Check the schools list to find out what’s happening in your area.
  • Atheist Ireland has written to the Taoiseach requesting to meet him and ministers and officials, under the structured process of dialogue between the Government and churches, faith bodies and non-confessional bodies.
    Atheist Ireland is a partner in this dialogue process, having been accepted as such at a meeting with officials of the Taoiseach’s Department in September 2011. We were also witnesses along with religious bodies at the recent hearings of the Health Committee on abortion law. Read more
  • At our AGM and the follow-up workshop late last year, we discussed arranging more family-friendly events. Our Atheists in the Pub events have been very successful (in Dublin, at least!) but we recognise that these events don’t suit everybody. So starting in February we will be hosting a brunch on the second Sunday of each month for Atheist Ireland members, like-minded non-members and their families. Again, this is beginning in Dublin but we hope our members around the country will be able to replicate it, as there’s no cost and very little organisation involved. The first such event is in the Trinity Capital Hotel on 10 February (see below for details).

Upcoming Events

  • Wednesday 30 January, Siobhan Mc Kenna Theatre, NUI Galway
    The Atheist and Humanist Society of NUIG presents “Fear as a Motivation for Religion”, a talk by  Kevin Sheehan. Facebook event page
  • Saturday 2 February, 12:00 – 2:00 pm, outside the GPO, O’Connell St., Dublin 1 (map)
    Brendan Maher will be braving the weather and the animus of religious preachers once again while promoting atheism, secularism and humanism at his stall outside the GPO. If you want to help, you can email Brendan or just pop along to say hello.
  • Sunday 3 February, 4:00 pm, Buswell’s Hotel, Molesworth St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Monthly meeting of the Humanist Association of Ireland. All are welcome.
  • Thursday 7 February, Reidy’s Wine Bar, Western Road, Cork
    Cork Humanists’ new monthly discussion group “Think and Drink”. This month’s topic is “Religion in the Public Eye”. Facebook event page
  • Sunday 10 February, 12:00 noon, Trinity Capital Hotel, Pearse St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Atheist Ireland’s first Secular Sunday Second Sunday Second Breakfast. Or brunch. Or lunch. Or whatever you wish to call whatever you wish to eat at midday on a Sunday. A chance to socialise with other atheists, especially for those who can’t easily get to our evening events. Children are welcome, as are theists accompanied by a responsible atheist. Facebook event page
  • Thursday 14 February, 7:00 pm, Thomas Davis Theatre, Trinity College Dublin (map)
    The Humanist Association of Ireland’s Darwin Day lecture. This year’s lecture will be given by Dr. Aoife McLysaght, on the topic “Darwin and Human Evolution: what do we know today?” Read more


  • What if we let people decide for themselves? Instead of baptizing babies who consent is never asked, what if we waited until they were adults and then they choose? – Robert Nielsen asks whether there should be an age of consent for religion. We haven’t featured Robert’s blog before but it sometimes deals with religion and atheism, including two other posts this week: 10 Questions for Atheists, and 10 Questions for Christians. Thanks to Geoff for finding this blog.
  • In a masterstroke of patronizing sexism, The Irish Catholic newspaper has criticized Senator Ivana Bacik for not behaving like a gentleman during the recent parliamentary hearings on abortion law. Michael Nugent calls out Michael Kelly on his sexist comments.

That’s your lot for another week. Till next time, take care.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday