Secular Sunday #471 – Bishops want ‘blasphemous’ item removed

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Bishops want ‘blasphemous’ item removed


Happy new year to all of our readers! The Catholic Bishops have started the new year by returning to the 1960s, trying to impose their values on RTE. They called on the station to remove a television comedy clip which they said is blasphemous and offensive.

Somebody should remind the Catholic Bishops that the people of Ireland voted to remove the offence of blasphemy from our Constitution and laws. People have rights. Beliefs do not.

RTE has apologised for any offence caused by the comedy sketch, but has not removed the item from its website.

Both religious people and atheists should support the right of other people to see and hear ideas that they believe to be offensive, unless the statements are defamatory or incite discrimination, hostility or violence.

Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign to ensure that the forthcoming hate speech legislation is not used to bring back blasphemy laws by another name.

– 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


Archbishop wants ‘blasphemous’ item removed

Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin has called on RTE to immediately remove a television clip which he says it is offensive, outrageous, and blasphemous. He was complaining about RTE’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Show, which included a mock news review by Waterford Whispers News.
The mock news review reported that a deranged John Delaney had launched the Provisional FAI, that a lethal second wave of Fianna Fail was imminent, and that after Brexit the UK had erected a giant fan on the cliffs of Dover for all of the shit to hit. It also included:

“In yet another shocking revelation this year, God became the latest figure to be implicated in ongoing sexual harassment scandals. The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young middle-Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will, before being sentenced to two years in prison with the last 24 months suspended.”

In response Archbishop Martin tweeted:

“1. I am shocked that producer/editor of ‘NYE Countdown Show’ @RTE @RTEOne didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking ‘news report’ accusing God of rape & reporting his imprisonment. This outrageous clip should be removed immediately & denounced by all people of goodwill.
2. To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God & Our Blessed Mother Mary during the Christmas season on ‘NYE Countdown Show’ on @RTE, @RTEOne & on Eve of the Solemn Feast of Mary, Mother of God is insulting to all Catholics and Christians. @deeforbes_dee”

Is Archbishop Martin aware that the people of Ireland recently voted overwhelmingly to remove the offence of blasphemy? Criticism or mockery of religious ideas is just as acceptable as criticism or mockery of secular ideas. But what of the claim that the item was offensive?
In October 2019, David Kaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the freedom of opinion and expression, published a report to the United Nations General Assembly on the human rights law that applies to freedom of expression. In that he stated:

“A person who is not advocating hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, for example, a person advocating a minority or even offensive interpretation of a religious tenet or historical event, or a person sharing examples of hatred and incitement to report on or raise awareness of the issue, is not to be silenced under article 20 of the ICCPR (or any other provision of human rights law). Such expression is to be protected by the State, even if the State disagrees with or is offended by the expression. There is no “heckler’s veto” in international human rights law.”

The Waterford Whispers News item did not advocate hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. It was a relatively tame comedic mockery of what many people of goodwill believe to be an immoral story in the Christian Bible, in which the creator of the universe impregnates a child who would by today’s standards be considered incapable of giving informed consent.
That is only one example of deeply immoral guidance in the Christian Bible regarding the treatment of women.

  • Based on the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, adultery is a crime committed against the husband of the woman involved, but not against the wife of the man involved. A man owns his wife from the time they become engaged.
  • If a newlywed man alleges that his bride was not a virgin, the bride’s father must prove her virginity by producing her blood-stained bedsheets. If he cannot do that, the bride will be stoned to death on her father’s doorstep.
  • In Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel, the God repeatedly commands the Israelites to attack the cities of other tribes, to show them no compassion, and to completely destroy them, putting to death man woman child and infant, and leaving nothing alive that breathes.
  • In Numbers, after the Israelites massacre the Midianites but spare the boys and women, Moses orders them to kill every boy and every woman who has had relations with a man, but spare for themselves every girl who has never had relations with a man.

Many people of goodwill find these Bible stories just as outrageous and offensive as Archbishop Martin finds the Waterford Whispers News item on RTE’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Show. Read more…

Schools may not instruct a child in a religion not its own without parental consent

It is constitutionally impermissible to instruct a child in a religion other than its own without the knowledge and consent of its parents.
Despite the above, most schools and teachers instruct children in a religion not of their own. Curriculum religious education instructs children in religions not of their own.
Article 42.1 of the Constitution guarantees the inalienable right of parents in relation to the religious and moral education of their children.
Children have a right to not attend religious instruction that is against the conscience of their parents. Church and state, or teachers and schools, have no right to decide what is or is not against the conscience of parents and their children.
The inalienable constitutional right of parents and their children have taken second place to a political decision to evangelise minorities by ignoring their constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court ruling on the payment of Chaplains in schools
In the Supreme Court case on the payment of Chaplains in Schools, Justice Barrington stated that:

“Secondly while it is obviously right and proper that a Chaplain should counsel and advise any child who may consult him about its problems it would be constitutionally impermissible for a Chaplain to instruct a child in a religion other than its own without the knowledge and consent of its parent.” (Justice Barrington – Campaign to Separate Church and State – Page 28)

In the above case, the Supreme Court was referring to Chaplains, and there is a particular concern about Chaplains instructing a child in a religion other than its own. However, the constitutional principle applies to all religious teaching.
If it is constitutionally impermissible for a Chaplain to instruction a child in a religion other than its own without the knowledge and consent of its parents, then it is constitutionally impermissible for any teacher to do so.
In many schools, minorities are coerced or forced to attend religion classes against their constitutional right, and no other subject is offered if they do manage to ensure that their children do not attend religion.
These children are left sitting in the religion class, despite the right to not attend under Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution. They are taught religions other than their own, because parents are told by teachers and schools that curriculum religion is suitable for their child. No supervision is offered by the school or another subject if they insist that their child should not attend the class.
The Constitutional rights of some religious parents are protected and promoted by Church and State. Those religious parents belong mostly to the Catholic church or the Church of Ireland. When minorities try to invoke their Constitutional rights as expressed by the Supreme Court, successive Ministers for Education just ignore them.
Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign for the rights of minorities in the education system. Read online…

Schools and teachers should not ask students about their beliefs


Irish schools and teachers regularly breach the right to freedom of religion and belief of students and families. Teachers are not trained to understand the practical application of the right to freedom of religion and belief, or the positive and negative aspects of it.

Freedom of religion and belief has a positive side and a negative side. Schools and teachers only recognise the positive aspect of freedom of religion and belief, and only for families with religious beliefs. They do not understand that non-religious families also have a positive right to freedom of religion and belief.

Teachers do not understand at all the negative aspect of freedom of religion and belief. This means that students and parents should not have to reveal their religion or belief, or be put in a position directly or indirectly where they feel obliged to reveal their religious or non-religious convictions.

This negative aspect of freedom of religion and belief is also connected to the right of parents to ensure that the teaching of their children is in conformity with their convictions. The European Court links Article 11 of Protocol 1 (the Right to Education) with Article 9 (the Right to Freedom of Religion and Belief).

The European Court has stated that:

87. The Court reiterates that freedom to manifest one’s religious beliefs comprises also a negative aspect, namely the right of individuals not to be required to reveal their faith or religious beliefs and not to be compelled to assume a stance from which it may be inferred whether or not they have such beliefs (see,Alexandridis v. Greece, no. 19516/06, § 38, ECHR 2008-…, and, mutatis mutandis, Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey, no. 1448/04, § 76 in fine, ECHR 2007-XI).

The Court has accepted, as noted above, that Article 9 is also a precious asset for non-believers like the third applicant in the present case. It necessarily follows that there will be an interference with the negative aspect of this provision when the State brings about a situation in which individuals are obliged – directly or indirectly – to reveal that they are non-believers. This is all the more important when such obligation occurs in the context of the provision of an important public service such as education.

Religion teachers regularly ask students about their beliefs and how they practice them. Students are encouraged to discuss their religion or beliefs in class, and exam questions ask students very personal questions about their beliefs.

Parents have informed us that Teachers who teach the second level Religious Education course regularly ask students about their beliefs. Parents are never informed that their children are expected to leave their human rights at the school gate.

This behaviour by teachers breaches the right of students and their families to freedom of religion and belief.

In addition, if parents wish to remove their child from religion classes, they are asked to come to a meeting in the school contrary to Section 62.7(n) of the Education (Admissions to Schools) Act 2018.

This puts parents in a position where they may feel obliged to reveal their convictions in order to access the right to not attend religious teaching. There is no need for this breach of the rights of families to freedom of religion and belief.

Atheist Ireland will continue to challenge the failure of our education system to protect the rights of students and their families. We are constantly told about the rights of families to religious freedom but when it comes to the rights of non-religious families to freedom of religion and belief, the right is suddenly suspended. Read online…

ETB schools continue to discriminate on the ground of religion

The recent case at the WRC in relation to religious discrimination shows clearly how the ETBs are not the solution to the problem of discrimination in our education system, but are part of the problem.
The issue at the WRC case was that the school in its Admission policy said it is multi-denominational and does not discriminate between faiths or beliefs, while giving preference to students from Church of Ireland backgrounds.
The WRC said their Admission policy and ethos was irreconcilable with giving preference to Church of Ireland students. You can read our article on the case here and the link to the case on the WRC website here.
This ETB School also has a Catholic Chaplain who is paid by the State to faith form Catholic students.  This issue is also irreconcilable with its multi-denominational ethos and is religious discrimination.
The school also teaches the children of atheist families to see the relevance of religion to their lives. How is that suitable for non-religious families? And ETB schools don’t offer students another subject if they exercise their right to not attend religion classes.
ETB schools claimed it was multi-denominational
This ETB school claimed in its Admission policy that it is multi-denominational and treats all faiths and beliefs equally. Despite this claim, it gave preference in admittance to students from a Church of Ireland background who attended the local Church of Ireland National School.
The WRC said that this was religious discrimination under the Equal Status Act. The school could not rely on the exemption under Section 7.3(c) of the Act that permits schools with a particular religious ethos to give preference to co-religionists.
Catholic Chaplain paid to faith form Catholic students
The school is a designated Community College. It has a Catholic Chaplain paid by the State to faith form catholic students. This must also be religious discrimination as, if the school cannot rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act, then it can hardly rely on Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, as it has not got a particular religious ethos.
Why are the ETBs paying only Catholic Chaplains to faith form Catholic students? The Contract for Catholic Chaplains clearly says that this is their purpose, and the Model Agreement for the school states that the Chaplain must be approved by the relevant religious authority, which in designated Community colleges is the local Catholic bishop. Read more…

Atheist Ireland defends ‘blasphemous’ comedy sketch shown by RTE on New Year’s Eve


By Julieanne Corr

A comedy sketch broadcast by RTE that accused God of rape has been defended by Atheist Ireland, after the national broadcaster issued an apology yesterday following hundreds of complaints. The sketch was described as “blasphemous” and “deeply offensive” by the Catholic primate of Ireland, Eamon Martin.
Michael Nugent, chairman of Atheist Ireland, said RTE was entitled to broadcast jokes that some people might find offensive, and that such rights should be protected. “Lots of groups, including Fianna Fail, were being mocked in the sketch and they didn’t ask for it to be removed,” he said.
“Calling it blasphemous is irrelevant as blasphemy laws in Ireland have been removed. There’s lots of things in the Christian Bible that I find offensive, but I’m not asking for that to be destroyed.”
RTE said it had received more than 1,100 complaints regarding the broadcast, and apologised to anyone who was offended. “RTE recognises that matters which can cause offence naturally differ from person to person, within comedy and satire in particular,” it said in a statement. “Having reviewed the feedback and complaints received up to this point, RTE wishes to apologise to those who were offended by the segment. The formal complaints will be responded to in accordance with the relevant statutory process.”
The sketch, by Waterford Whispers News, a satirical news website, was broadcast on a New Year’s Eve countdown programme hosted by Kathryn Thomas and Deirdre O’Kane. Aengus Mac Grianna, a former RTE news anchor, provided the voiceover for a mock news report in which it was said God was “the latest figure” to be implicated in “ongoing sexual harassment scandals”.
He added: “The five-billion-year-old stood accused of forcing himself on a young Middle Eastern migrant and allegedly impregnating her against her will before being sentenced to two years in prison, with the last 24 months suspended.

“Following the news, movie producer Harvey Weinstein requested a retrial in Ireland.”
The sketch showed an old man dressed as “God” being led away by a garda and shouting: “It was 2,000 years ago.”
Afterwards Martin tweeted: “I am shocked that the producer/editor of the NYE countdown show didn’t realise how deeply offensive was a mocking ‘news report’ accusing God of rape and reporting his imprisonment.”
The archbishop added: “This outrageous clip should be removed immediately and denounced. To broadcast such a deeply offensive and blasphemous clip about God and our blessed mother Mary during the Christmas season . . . is insulting to all Catholics and Christians.” He tagged the Twitter handles of RTE and Dee Forbes, the station’s director-general, in the post.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said that, speaking on behalf of its members and Christians of all denominations, it felt dismay at the decision to televise a very offensive portrayal of the God whom Christians worship.The association added: “In light of such provocative insensitivity, the ACP would like RTE to commit to a review of their polices and approaches to reporting on the Christian faith, and to make results and relevant recommendations open to public review.”
It is understood the clip will not be removed from the RTE Player, but a warning will be published before the footage to inform viewers that it may cause offence.
Nugent said the national broadcaster was right not to remove the programme. “The segment was mocking a belief, not a group of people,” he said. “People have rights, beliefs don’t.” Read online…

An article from 2015 that still holds in catholic primary schools in Ireland

6 year old Infants in Irish schools taught that ‘Mary says ‘YES’!

As part of the new Catholic religion course ‘Grow in Love’, six year old infants in Irish schools are being taught that ‘Mary says YES’! to God ‘working through her’ by making her pregnant, despite Mary being afraid, confused and not understanding what was going on.
Mary looks like a little girl in the picture that is to be displayed in all classrooms. When Mary says ‘YES’!, she is sitting on her bed looking startled, it is nighttime, and there is a little kitten with a heart on it beside her on the floor.
This is an extraordinary and dangerous message to give to young children. ‘SAY YES’!, even if you are afraid and confused. Just trust someone that comes to your bed in the night.
Of all organisations, the Catholic Church should know that we have higher standards of child protection today than were common when this myth was first invented two thousand years ago, at a time when Jewish girls were typically betrothed for marriage at about twelve years of age.
The ‘Grow in Love’ religion course is based on the Catholic Preschool and Primary Religious Education Curriculum. The Catholic Church sought and received approval from the Holy See for its use in publicly funded Irish National Schools. This approval is called a “Decree of Recognitio“.
The Religion book for Senior Infants describes this section as;

“The Angel Gabriel comes to Mary”

Young children are expected to complete a maze to help Gabriel to find his way to Mary, who is portrayed as a child in her bed at night, and then the children have to trace out the word ‘YES’. Read more…


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  $30,500 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 1734 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.

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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:

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Thank you for your continued support


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By Council Of Ex-Muslims UK


#JusticeForZaraKay #JusticeForZara #StandUpForZaraKay
Zara Kay, an Australian citizen and founder of Faithless Hijabi, was summoned to the Dar es-Salaam Oysterbay Police Station on 28 December 2020 and was held in police custody for 32 hours without an initial clear indication of charges. Zara is a well-known ex-Muslim and women’s rights activist. Faithless Hijabi, which she founded in 2018, supports women who have been ostracised or abused for leaving Islam. Whilst in police custody, Zara was asked about the work of her organisation and why she left Islam.
Zara was bailed on 29 December 2020 and told to return to the police station on 31 December. Her passport was also confiscated. This morning, at the police station, Zara was given permission to return on Tuesday 5 January 2021 with her lawyer. This is because stress caused by her initial police custody exacerbated Zara’s underlying health condition.  Late last night, Zara had to go to the local hospital where doctors reiterated her diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Read more…

Raise awarness on blasphemy law abuse

Opinion and Media

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Blogs & Opinions



Mother and Baby Homes report to highlight ‘massive societal failure’


By Jennifer Bray


Details of a “massive societal failure” and misogyny that “permeated” Irish life for decades will be revealed when the Mother and Baby Homes Commission’s report is published next month, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said. Read  more…

RTÉ apologises after complaints over New Year’s Eve countdown sketch

By RTE News


RTÉ has apologised after a number of people complained over a Waterford Whispers sketch segment in the New Year’s Eve countdown programme, which was broadcast on RTÉ One television. Read more…


Pastafarians and atheists protected under Facebook hate speech rules


By Brian Mahon


Pastafarians and atheists are protected under Facebook’s hate speech provisions, internal documents show. Pastafarianism is a movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Read more…

Why religious holidays are increasingly without religion


By Freedom From Religion Foundation


Christmas has been losing its supernatural component in recent times. Increasingly, it’s more about Santa and Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman — plus billions in spending for gifts and gatherings that build family closeness.Read more…

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