Secular Sunday #80 – EWTS and more

Things are finally back to normal this week. No holidays or conferences to get in the way of me delivering all the important atheist news and views to you all. Rest assured, I closed the curtains and ignored this weekend’s record-breaking sunshine in order to get this newsletter written. I hope you appreciate the sacrifice.

– Derek Walsh, Editor

Conference Report

Last weekend’s Empowering Women Through Secularism conference in Dublin was a huge success. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve all learned a few things. Videos for most of the sessions are now online and linked to below. The remaining videos will be uploaded in the next few days.


Introduction – Jane Donnelly and Annie Laurie Gaylor

Session 1 – Reproductive rights and Irish abortion law

Session 2 – Secular Values in Society

Session 3 – Separation of Church and State

Session 4 – Human Rights

Keynote Speaker – Taslima Nasrin


Session 5 – Politics and Campaigning

A number of bloggers have independently reviewed the conference. Justin Vacula who had his trip to the conference crowd-funded, live-tweeted the whole event and reported live from the O’Callaghan Alexander on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Geoff Lillis was not far behind in the tweeting department and presents his personal view of the conference here. And Becca Ryan has already written several posts on the conference and plans to write more. Let us know if there are any blogs we’ve missed.
We’ll have more on the conference next week, and we’ll be soliciting feedback from attendees so we can figure out what we did right, and what we did wrong with a view to improving future events.


  • Friday 12 July, 8:00 pm, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork (map)
    Cork Skeptics present Professor Colm Mulcahy who will be discussing the life and legacy of renowned American writer and sceptic Martin Gardner. Facebook event page
  • Sunday 14 July, 12:00 noon, Trinity Capital Hotel, Pearse St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Another Second Sunday brunch thing. All are welcome. Just pay for your own food. Facebook event page
    Check the usual sources for simultaneous events in other towns and cities.
  • Wednesday 17 July, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid West Humanists are meeting. All are welcome.
  • 25-28 July, various locations, Dublin
    The Festival of Curiosity, Dublin’s first annual festival of science and culture, with lots of free day-time events for families and children, accompanied by an evening programme of  interactive science debates, discussions and shows.Find out more
  • Saturday 27 July, 6:30 pm, The Lord Edward, Dublin 2 (map)
    Dublin Skeptics in the Pub will be gathering in the Lord Edward for chats, pints, and the possibility of a plate of chips. Facebook event page

News Digest

Barbara Monea who of late has compiled our regular news digest has begun a blog collecting all the news that’s likely to be of interest to Atheist Ireland members and other readers.  It will be updated on a daily (or near-daily) basis and can be found here.


A few bloggers have been writing on topics other than our conference. Here are some highlights:

I am firmly of the belief that anyone is entitled to whichever religious or irreligious views they like – if someone is opposed to same sex marriage or abortion on grounds of their faith, I respect their right to feel that way and hold those beliefs. But I have little truck for those who try to force their beliefs upon others, and especially those who misrepresent research in a cynical attempt to scaremonger and fortify their religious standpoint. – David Robert Grimes on Fun and Frolics with the Iona Institute

The sticking point for pro-life activists is suicide. Irish citizens have voted twice on this specific issue because we weren’t believed the first time. Our emphatic answer was that we refuse to pretend mental illness isn’t fatal sometimes. That was years ago and successive governments have refused to enact the constitutional decision because they’ve been intimidated by vociferous pro-life activists who continued and still continue to assure all and sundry that pregnant women in Ireland have nothing to fear. – In a guest post on Datbeardyman’s blog Fiona Hanley writes about reconciling being pro-choice with Catholicism

If morality is indeed objective and the most favourable path towards this morality is via a Catholic belief system, as these groups appear to claim, then surely the proof would be in the empirical pudding? Surely anyone who follows this kind of belief system (particularly someone who clings to it with zeal and wears these beliefs on their sleeve) will be a decent person who contributes positively to society? Failing that, you would at least assume that such a person couldn’t possibly end up being a horrible individual who has nothing to offer but negativity. – In what must be a week for guest posts, Fintan O’Toolbox takes the reins at Geoff’s Shorts to write about the River of Bile – On Steroids

Secular Sunday