Please donate to help Atheist Ireland produce children’s books and primary school course about atheism

UPDATE: Atheist Ireland is financing, developing, designing and piloting Ireland’s first ever children’s books and primary school course about atheism. We’ve had great feedback so far to the first phase of the project: a book for children about freedom of religion and belief, titled Is My Family Odd About Gods?

We were initially working with Educate Together on this project, with information provided by us and developed into lessons by them. As we reported at our 2014 AGM, the nature and schedule of this project then changed, as we turned out to not share the same vision with regard to either costings or content of the project.

Atheist Ireland has since commenced the project by writing, testing, and publishing the children’s book Is My Family Odd About Gods? The book, with illustrations by Eiynah, is already in some school libraries, and being used in some classes, in both Educate Together and denominational schools.

You can buy the book online in either print or digital format – see the link near the top right of this page.

We are now working on translating the content of that book, as well as other content, into workbooks with projects, and initial lesson plans. Parents are currently reviewing the first set of draft lesson plans. We are grateful for the support, both financial and otherwise, of everyone who has donated to this project.

Why is this book and course so important?

The Irish State discriminates against secular parents and their children. They take no positive steps to protect secular parents and their children from religious discrimination in the education system. There are no secular, non-denominational public schools in Ireland. Only a small but growing number of Educate Together schools provide education about religion without faith formation, and even they have no course content about atheism.

The Irish education system is funded by the Irish state, but the state effectively franchises the running of schools to private bodies called patrons. The patrons employ teachers and set the ethos of the school, and the state funds the maintenance of the schools and pays the teachers’ wages. Over 90 per cent of patrons are Roman Catholic Bishops. Most of the rest are clerics from other churches.

Religious schools can legally give preference to co-religionists in order to uphold their religious ethos. Parents are required to produce a Catholic Baptismal Certificate when enrolling their children at the only local school. Schools can also legally dismiss a teacher if they do not uphold the religious ethos of the school. This religious discrimination is not confined to the school environment but also involves the private life of the teacher.

Catholic Schools in Ireland operate a religious integrated curriculum. Religion is integrated into the curriculum and the daily life of the school. The UN Human Rights Committee has raised concern regarding the religious integrated curriculum in Irish schools as it denied parents access to a secular education for their children. They said that it was discrimination, and breached the right to freedom of conscience, the rights if the child and the right to equality before the law.

How will the lessons be developed?

Our lessons will be based on the style of the book that we have already published. They will be taught in an objective, critical and pluralist manner. They will teach about atheism, not teach atheism.

They will be based on international human rights law that protects and respects the religious and nonreligious philosophical convictions of all parents and their children.

These human rights are reflected in the Toledo guiding principles on teaching about religion and beliefs, compiled by the OSCE.

The lessons will be 30-40 minutes in length. Professionals will be employed to write lessons, and a co-ordinator will be employed to manage the project.

We also hope to make course material available for parents whose children are in denominational schools, and who want material for their child to study while they are opted out of the Religious Education/Faith Formation classes.

How you can contribute to this historic project

You can help to make this historic project happen by contributing any amount, no matter how large or small, to Atheist Ireland’s Education Fund.

1. You can contribute online

Click on the DONATE button on the top of the right-hand column of any page on the Atheist Ireland website or the Teach Don’t Preach website.

2. You can lodge money directly to

Atheist Ireland Number 2 Account
Bank of Ireland, Market Square,
Navan, County Meath
Sort Code 90-35-09
Account Number 44995-484

If you do this, please also let us know that you have done so.

3. You can post contributions to

The Finance Officer
Atheist Ireland
Debedy Lodge,
Debedy Lane,
County Louth

Please make cheques etc payable to Atheist Ireland Number 2 Account

Thank you for your contribution

Thank you for helping us to make this historic project happen by contributing any amount, no matter how large or small, to Atheist Ireland’s Education Fund.

Any donations, whether small or large, are very welcome.

Further information

If you have any questions about this project, please contact

Jane Donnelly
Education and Human Rights Officer
Atheist Ireland
education [at] atheist [dot] ie

Atheist Ireland