Secular Sunday #470 – An eventful year

This week’s Secular Sunday. To avoid missing out, sign up here to receive Secular Sunday by email



An eventful year


Atheist Ireland has had an eventful 2020. The blasphemy law was finally removed from the Statute books, the Government is removing religious oath requirements from swearing affidavits, and the the Dying with Dignity Bill has passed to the next stage in the Dail. We continue to lobby at an international level for the human rights to freedom of belief.

We obtained a legal opinion this year on the Constitutional right to attend State-funded schools without attending religion class. We also produced a report on how schools are refusing to implement a key requirement in the Admission to Schools Act. The Oireachtas Joint Education Committee is considering these issues as part of its programme for work.

Like everybody else, we have coped with the Covid pandemic. As a community, we try to help each other through crises with natural compassion and empathy. We will continue to do so during 2021, when we hope the Covid vaccine will gradually make life safer for all of us. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to another eventful year ahead.

– Secular Sunday Editorial Team

Éire Aindiach

Éire Aindiach


Chun ár gcuid feachtais a leathnú agus a neartú, tá sé beartaithe ag Éire Aindiach níos mó úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaeilge.
Ba mhaith linn meitheal a eagrú, chun cuidiú le:
  • Polasaithe agus feachtais Éire Aindiach a phlé ar an raidió nó ar an teilifís
  • Cuidiú le doiciméid ghaeilge a scríobh
  • Bualadh le polaiteoirí chun stocaireacht a dhéanamh
Táimid i mbun aistriúcháin a dhéanamh ar dhoiciméid polasaí faoi láthair, agus teastaíonn cabhair uainn le aistriúchán agus profáil.  Más maith leat bheith páirteach san iarracht seo, cur ríomhphost chugainn ag
English translation:

To broaden and strengthen our campaigns, Atheist Ireland have undertaken to make more use of the Irish language.
We are looking to assemble a group of volunteers, to help with:

  • Discussing our policies and campaigns on radio or tv
  • Helping to write documents in Irish
  • Meeting with politicians to lobby them
We are in the process of translating policy documents at the moment, and we need some help with translating and proofreading.  If you would like to assist with this effort, please email us at

Atheist Ireland News


ETB school discriminates against child from Catholic family

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has found that a child from Catholic family was discriminated against on the grounds of religion because an Education & Training Board (ETB) school gave preference in admissions to children from Church of Ireland families.
Discrimination hurts, and the child was distraught at being refused access to the school. She lived locally, and all her friends got into the school. Many families from minority backgrounds suffer this discrimination all the time in the Irish education system, and there is a lack of understanding of the hurt that it causes.
This case is an example of how the ETBs operate in practice on the ground. They say one thing but their practices undermine what they say. The institutionalised religious discrimination in the Irish education system has managed to hurt another child and family. Minority families are on the receiving end of this discrimination all the time.
You can find an article in the Irish Times on it here and the full case on the WRC website here
ETB school claims they are multi-denominational
This particular school claims in their Admission policy that they are multi-denominational and welcome and respects students from all religions and beliefs. However, the Department of Education lists them on their website as Interdenominational. Interdenominational schools are Christian schools.
Their Admission policy reflects the ethos of the school which seems to be that you can claim to welcome and respect all and then discriminate against some in practice. This is what families deal with when they send their child to an ETB school. They say one thing and mean another thing.
We are aware of other ETB designated Community Colleges that claim they are multi-denominational but have a Catholic ethos. It doesn’t make any logical sense, and the WRC have found the exact same thing.
It seems that the ETBs simply don’t understand what religious discrimination is. They don’t support and promote the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the ground. Instead they undermine this.
Designated Community Colleges
As far as we are aware, in general, ETB schools do not discriminate in access. However, this particular school has always been an exception. This ETB School is a designated Community College. Its ETB has an Agreement with the local Catholic Bishop and the Church of Ireland called a Model Agreement.
The school gave preference in Admissions to children from Church of Ireland families who attended a particular Church of Ireland school in the locality, notwithstanding the fact that it claims that it is multi-denominational and welcomes students from all religions and beliefs.
The ETB said at the WRC that the arrangement of giving preference to children from a particular Church of Ireland school was part of the agreement when the school was set up. They stated that:

“The school has a particular Ethos informed by the tradition of the ETB, Catholic Church and Church of Ireland Faiths. While a multi-denominational school the Church of Ireland ethos and traditions are visible in the School’s calendar. The number of Church of Ireland students was 4 during the 2020/2021 admission to first year. The model agreement in place goes back to the very beginnings of the School and included a key objective to provide Church of Ireland students with an educational environment that respected their tradition and was non-fee paying. It must be understood in that light.”

In a different case at the WRC, it was accepted that a non-designated Community College did have a Christian ethos. You can find that here. Read more…

The Aim of Religious Education

In Ireland the aim of curriculum Religious Education is to teach students to develop values to enable them to see the relevance of religion to their lives.

If the aim of any course was to teach students about the relevance of atheism to their lives we would never hear the end of it.

ETB schools and denominational schools claim that curriculum religious education is inclusive. Their understanding of inclusive means that they seek to develop values in students from non religious and atheist families to enable them to see the relevance of religion to their lives. That is indoctrination not inclusiveness


Calling concerned teachers

If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at


List of Atheist Ireland Submissions



Buy this book “Is My Family Odd About Gods?”

Have you noticed that your school and your teachers may tell you one thing about religion, while some of your friends and family may have different ideas about god?
If you think that this is a little odd, then this book is for you. Buy this book here.


Lessons about Atheism

Atheist Ireland has published a set of free lesson plans about atheism for children aged 8 and up. We welcome feedback, which we will use to develop the lessons. You can download the lesson plans here



Be Good without Gods


Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of  $30,975 to 1079 entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can join the team here. Before you chose a loan, make sure you do not support religious groups. You can check the loan partner’s social and secular rating here.

Atheist Ireland’s ‘‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1733 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here.

Petition on Schools Equality PACT 

Atheist Ireland currently runs one petition – The Schools Equality PACT. This seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Currently this stands at 4,042 Help us reach it’s target of 5000. Please sign and share this petition if you haven’t already done so. Thank you.

Tell us what you think

Have you any feedback that you would like to give us on the Secular Sunday newsletter. What are we getting right? What could we improve on? Is there something you would like to see included? Drop us an email at

Please consider joining or re-joining Atheist Ireland

Atheist Ireland is an entirely volunteer run organisation. We receive no grants or government funding to continue our campaign work. We rely entirely on membership fess and donations.

Annual membership is nominal; €25 waged, €10 unwaged/student and €40 for family membership. Please consider becoming a member. Membership means:

  • You can help to build an ethical and secular Ireland.
  • You have a say in determining policy and electing officers.
  • You can attend members meetings and our AGM.
  • You will have access to our members only Facebook group
  • Your membership fee will go towards supporting our many campaigns.

You can join Atheist Ireland here.

Thank you for your continued support


Atheist Ireland Committee



Take Action

Nigeria: Court Orders IG to Release Facebook User Detained for Blasphemy Since February


By Alex Enumah


The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the Nigeria Police Force, to release a Facebook user, Mbarak Bala, who was arrested in Kaduna on February 28, 2020 for alleged blasphemous posts about Islam.
Delivering judgment in the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Bala, Justice Inyang Ekwo declared that his arrest and detention by the IG and the NPF in an unknown detention centre since February 28, 2020 “because he expressed his option about religion on Facebook, constitutes an infraction of the applicant’s rights to personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of thought, freedom of express and freedom of movement”. Read more…

Raise awarness on blasphemy law abuse



January 2021


International Perihelion Party

One of our members asked us to share the following event
Title: International Perihelion Party
Time: Saturday 2nd January 2021, 13:30
Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 875 6720 4529
Passcode: OurStar

Secular AA Ireland

Here is some information on a new Alcoholics Anonymous group ‘Secular AA Ireland’ that are currently holding meetings online. Email Helen at in confidence if you would like your details passed on to this group in order to get more information.
SAAI meetings are being held on Zoom on: Wednesdays @ 19.30 and Fridays @ 17.30
Both meetings run for 70 minutes, with extra time at the end for a chat.


Opinion and Media

Material on atheism, secularism, human rights,politics,science etc. collected from media and the blogosphere from Ireland and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement. We aim to include a variety of diverse opinions and viewpoints.


Blogs & Opinions



O’Gorman confirms research into long-term health impact of living in mother and baby homes


By Órla Ryan


MINISTER RODERIC O’GORMAN has said survivors will be consulted extensively and given access to support to help them deal with the release of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. The Department of Health will also carry out research examining how living in the homes impacted people’s health. Read more…

Dublin school discriminated against Catholic student, commission finds


By Gordon Deegan


A multidenominational secondary school discriminated against a Catholic girl on religious grounds by favouring for admission Church of Ireland students from a local primary school. That is the finding of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which has ordered the Dublin community school to admit the girl to second year next September. Read more…

Freedom of Fishing Expeditions




Here at The Free Thought Prophet, we’ve talked with several guests about Roman Catholic education and its relationship to the State. The contrast we have observed between the USA and Ireland is interesting, specifically with regard to Roman Catholic control of State-funded education in Ireland. One implication of the interaction between the Church and the public bodies that management State schools (as opposed to private Roman Catholic schools) is that the communications of public bodies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Read more…

The HEA And Gender Equality




Around a year ago, The Free Thought Prophet published an article about a series of false statements made by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). This is the body that allocates billions of euro in public funds every year to the third level educational sector in Ireland. The issue related to a widespread practice across the sector, of awarding State-funded contracts to Roman Catholic Bishops in secret. Read more…


How should you talk to friends and relatives who believe conspiracy theories?


By Marianna Spring


You’re dreading the moment. As your uncle passes the roast potatoes, he casually mentions that a coronavirus vaccine will be used to inject microchips into our bodies to track us. Or maybe it’s that point when a friend, after a couple of pints, starts talking about how Covid-19 “doesn’t exist”. Or when pudding is ruined as a long-lost cousin starts spinning lurid tales about QAnon and elite Satanists eating babies. Read more…


The Most Common Religious Identity For Young Americans Is ‘None,’ Study Suggests


By Carol Kuruvilla


Over one-third of young adults said they are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” according to a report from the American Enterprise Institute.For years, researchers have watched as an increasing number of young American adults chose not to identify with a specific religious tradition. A new report is offering further insight into the beliefs ― and influence ― of this burgeoning group. Read more…


FFRF greets Xmas with full-page Bill of Rights ad in Wis. State Journal


By Freedom From Religion Foundation


Readers might be surprised to see a striking full-page ad headlined “Joy to the World” on Christmas Day in the Wisconsin State Journal, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wis.Why surprised? Because the advertisement was placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), which is based in Madison. Read more…

If you are a blogger or vlogger writing or talking about atheism, secularism, ethics, skepticism, human rights etc. and would like us to include your work here please email the link to


Podcasts, Videos and Interviews


Do you host an Irish-based podcast on atheism, secularism, science, skepticism, human rights etc.? Let us know and we will link to it here.


*|YOUTUBE: [$vid=QUR6jQJBdGw]|*

Freethought Radio – Solstice Cheer – Multiple performers

Friendly Atheist Podcast – The Secret Disturbing Life of Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias
National Secular Society – Year in review

Media Watch

News and views from Ireland and around the world. Sharing is not an endorsement. 




Please consider joining Atheist Ireland and support our continued work








Secular Sunday