Secular Sunday #77- Plus Ça Change

I am off on a well-deserved holiday but am taking the time to ensure you get this newsletter as expected. Apologies for any typographical errors caused by my using an “azerty” keyboard with a French spellchecker. I will still be on holidays next week and have made arrangements to avoid having to do this again: Geoff Lillis (known to readers of Secular Sunday as the man who puts the Geoff in Geoff’s Shorts) has kindly agreed to fill in as editor in my absence. I can spend the next week completely relaxed knowing it’s in good hands.

– Derek Walsh, Editor

Atheist Ireland News

  • On Thursday, Michael Nugent, Jane Donnelly and Professor David Nash met with the chairperson of the Irish Constitutional Convention to  discuss the procedures for Atheist Ireland’s submissions on the question of removing the blasphemy law, and for a general submission on the separation of church and state. Read more
  • Michael Nugent appeared on Tonight with Vincent Browne on TV3 on Thursday night, discussing how the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland has waned in recent decades. Watch on TV3 Player

Profile: Anthea McTeirnan

Every week until the Empowering Women through Secularism conference, we’ll be profiling one of the speakers.Anthea McTeirnanAnthea McTeirnan is a journalist and a self-described “feminist activist fighting for reproductive justice”. Anthea is the editor of The Ticket, the weekly entertainment supplement of the Irish Times. She also regularly contributes articles to that newspaper and to a number of websites, and is a former director of the Irish Family Planning Association.


  • Monday 17 June, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map) Galway Skeptics in the Pub #59 – Keep Calm and Panic. Facebook event page
  • Tuesday 18 June, 7:30 pm, Costigan’s, Washington St. West, Cork (map) Cork Humanists’ Film Night. This month’s film is Persepolis, a 2007 animated film  set against the background of the Iranian Revolution. More
  • Wednesday 19 June, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map) The Mid West Humanists are meeting. All are welcome.
  • Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 June, O’Callaghan Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2 (map) “Empowering Women Through Secularism” An international two-day conference featuring some of the biggest names in atheism, skepticism, secularism and feminism. Buy tickets now
  • Saturday 6 July, 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm, GPO, O’Connell St., Dublin 1 (map) Brendan Maher and friends will be outside the GPO with a stall promoting atheism, secularism and humanism. Email Brendan if you want to help or for further information.
  • Sunday 7 July, 4:00 pm, Buswell’s Hotel, Molesworth St., Dublin 2 (map) Monthly meeting of the Humanist Association of Ireland. All are welcome.


I cannot in good faith offer prayer to those who are unwell, but I like to think that blood donation gives we godless some access to the same feelings of offering up something of ourselves for the good of others, and the hope that what we contribute can aid in another’s healing.Geoff Lillis on giving blood and the right to choose

Although there are still social mechanisms that enforce and police gender roles (media depictions of women, “slut-shaming”, schoolyard bullying of effeminate boys, etc.) it’s no longer acceptable for public figures to explicitly endorse  different roles for men and women in society or in the home. I’m fairly sure that endorsements of this kind would be ridiculed as hopelessly backward. This is probably why David Quinn deliberately avoids elaborating on what gender differences in particular he thinks are important and are worth preserving.David Gormley discusses marriage, gender roles and David Quinn

These days, we forget the household gods that every society invented and venerated, not least the Irish, whose attachment to the elemental and the ancient is written into the very DNA of our speech.   It’s no wonder that people such as us would have been so vulnerable to grooming by sacerdotal smooth-talkers, just as the vulnerable everywhere are groomed by potential abusers.  Who in Europe, during the mid-nineteenth century might have been more open to seduction than our ancestors, after the appalling social dislocation caused by the latest famine?Bock the Robber muses on the declericalisation of Ireland

I sat my parents down, when I was sixteen, and told them I was an Atheist. I had been an Atheist since I was thirteen. They obviously had some questions since they had raised their son to be a devout Catholic, which I had anticipated. My father accepted it and moved on from it. He respected my views, as they were mine and mine alone. My mother on the other hand has only half accepted it. To this day she still calls me a Catholic.Datatheist on coming out in Catholic Ireland


Secular Sunday