How the Catholic Church has harmed Ireland
This week Atheist Ireland, along with the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, raised with the Minister for Education the issue of religious discrimination in the hiring of chaplains for ETB schools.
Atheist Ireland also made a submission this week to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020. The Justice Committee is currently scrutinising the Bill that passed the Dail stage of its progress last year.
We have also published arguments for and against RTE showing the supposedly blasphemous comedy sketch on New Year’s Eve, written by Peter Hinchliffe who runs our Kerry group and local Catholic Priest Father Kevin McNamara.
We are a voluntary body and we depend on our membership to continue our advocacy for ethical secularism. Please consider joining Atheist Ireland as a member. If you are already a member, please ask a friend or colleague to join also!
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– Secular Sunday Editorial Team
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Ba mhaith linn meitheal a eagrú, chun cuidiú le:
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Atheist Ireland News
RTE’s ‘blasphemous’ comedy sketch – opinions of an atheist and a Catholic priest
This article is written by Peter Hinchliffe, who runs the Atheist Ireland Kerry Group.
A few weeks ago a local paper asked if I could submit responses to questions raised by the issue of RTEs sketch showing the Abrahamic god being arrested for the rape of Mary. The Paper had also contacted a local representative of the Catholic Faith (Fr Kevin McNamara) and asked him some Mirror questions.
It was my impression that both sides would be printed opposite one another, but what actually happened was that our answers were used to create a piece that gave the appearance of a first person interview. This meant that much of my argument was lost, some conclusions watered down or left out in favour of my starting speculation and in general I felt a very weak argumentThe RTE was put forward for my own contribution.
Fr McNamara had answered his questions on the phone rather than in writing so had no record, but was happy to redo the project with me, using the questions sent to me as his guide. Obviously his own original contribution would have undergone the same change in format, but he had no written copy. He is aware that this will be published on a secular website aimed at people who would not share his views, and I can only give him credit for doing so.
Here are my answers to the questions:
1. What is your opinion of the RTE sketch depicting God being arrested for sexual offences?
The sketch did not happen in a bubble, the account of Marys impregnation was not written by Atheists or non-believers and it has not been passed down and taught by those either. In Ireland the Catholic Church uses the schools it controls to teach that even though Mary did not understand and was frightened and confused she still said yes, in the last few years they produced a poster for the classrooms of six year olds depicting Mary as a young girl sitting on a bed with exactly that message, the message is clear and extremely dangerous, but this is the teaching today.
If we forget about the comedy sketch and instead imagine that argument for consent being used in a court of law, what outcome would we expect and what title would we give to the alleged offender? If after the trial we were then told that the offender had a recorded history of ordering multiple counts of mass murder, genocide, infanticide and rape, would we struggle to call him what he was?
None of this is taken from anywhere but the bible and Christian teaching, but today the catholic church demands not only the right to spread this tale in state schools but also to control how we interpret it and in that way very definitely seeks to have its cake and eat it.
2. Why would anyone feel the need to upset a person’s faith just for the sake of being humorous?
It’s an odd question, “why do we feel the need” that’s very much part of the human condition, we laugh at things for a number of reasons and we find things amusing that others do not.
I would have to ask: how do we decide that humour is inappropriate or crosses a line? Is it all good until one person is offended, two people, a hundred?
We can fall back on some basic principles, the same principles that we apply in so many other areas. The main one being that people have rights ideas do not. All religions are ideologies, exactly the same as political ideologies or those wild conspiracy theories that are becoming more popular amongst other things.
Many people hold their religious beliefs very sincerely and feel a personal affront when they are challenged, not just in humour but in general discourse, we have no control over those feelings of offence, they can pop up at any time for an infinite number of reasons and if we give them the power to censor as we have in the past, those feelings will be wielded mightily in place of good argument or rational debate.
In this context I can only give my personal take on the humour because it is of course subjective. For millennia the church has taught that its god is a loving god, a powerful god and of course a vengeful god, many of us can clearly see it is also a petty narcissistic god and it is beyond doubt that if you followed its many hundreds of commandments you would receive multiple life sentences.
Of course I don’t believe this god is guilty of anything, especially existence, but the fact is that for a very long time people with far too much power have been telling us that not only is this all real, but its wondrous and we had better get in line and say thank you and of course respect their authority because of it- if that’s not a recipe for some humour I for one certainly do not know what is.
3. Do you feel sorry for those who feel offended?
I feel sympathy for those offended, I understand that many good decent people have a great love for the god they believe in and for the character of Mary. I support fully their right to state their feelings, to produce counter argument and to make demands for their feelings to be taken into account and for the skit to be censured. That is their right.
However RTE should have shown more courage and should not have apologised, a simple acknowledgement that feelings were hurt but that that is not uncommon in humour would have sufficed.
The skit was not conjured up simply to offend and attack individual believers. They could have done that in a number of ways to little point. This skit only worked because it was based on the Bible and the teachings of the Christian churches, if those very churches with their bishops at the helm had not sold the impregnation of a person incapable of giving informed consent as a positive act based on nothing but her supposed adoration and fear of the perpetrator the skit would have fallen flat to all observers, let us remember that is exactly what they teach in schools today.
Religions have their own agendas, they want to spread just like any other institution and of course they want to keep what they already have, they succeeded for hundreds of years in making questioning of them a dangerous act, in many Islamic theocracies it still is, just as political descent is so dangerous in countries like china, dogma is a humourless stance in any ideology.
They demand the right to a special status based solely on their view that that is their entitlement, that their message is so special it is beyond parody and humour and they demand that they not anyone else be the judge of when that line is crossed.
So yes I have sympathy for the individuals, but offence is not cause for censorship and deciding where offence crosses the line cannot be left to the offended. Read more…
Religious discrimination in the hiring of Chaplains in ETB schools
Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland have jointly written to the Minister for Education about religious discrimination in the hiring of Chaplains in ETB schools.
The WRC found in a recent case that a Designated ETB Community College could not rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act to discriminate in admissions in favour of Church of Ireland students.
If ETB schools and colleges cannot rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act, then they cannot rely either on Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act to discriminate on the ground of religion when employing chaplains.
The WRC Case
The school in the case gave preference to students who attended a particular Church of Ireland National School over Catholic students and students from other backgrounds. At the WRC the ETB attempted to rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act to legally sanction this discrimination. The WRC found that the school could not rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act as its Admission Policy stated it was multi-denominational and treated all religions and beliefs equally.
The WRC stated that:
“Based on the statements in the current Admission policy which describes the School Ethos and its values, including equality of treatment irrespective of religious faith, it is difficult to reconcile how giving preference to Church of Ireland students is consistent with that stated objective while at the same time it does admit and give preference to a particular religious denomination.
The admission’s policy of the College states that it provides religious education, is multi-denominational and also contains the very explicit statement that it does not discriminate based on religion. The School denies that it is discriminating, relying on section 7(3)(c) of the Act that it in fact does give preference to provide education in an environment which promotes certain religious values, it admits persons of a particular religious denomination in preference to others.
The stated School position in its admission policy not to give preference based on religion and at the same time relying on Section 7(3)(c) that it does give preference to one religious denomination in order to provide education in an environment that promotes certain religious values are irreconcilable.”
Implications for Chaplains
If ETB schools and colleges cannot rely on Section 7 of the Equal Status Act, then they cannot rely on Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act either. Designated Community Colleges and Community Schools employ mainly Catholic Chaplains to assist Catholic parents with the faith formation of their children. This costs the State €10 million per year.
As per the Deeds of Trust for Community schools and the Model Agreement for Designated Community Colleges, Chaplains employed by the ETBs must be sanctioned by the relevant religious authority. In most cases it is the Catholic Church that the Chaplain must report to in relation to the faith formation of Catholic students in these ETB schools.
What we are looking for
We have asked the Minister remove this religious discrimination by opening up access to the position of Chaplain to all religions. Discriminating against minorities breaches Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, Article 44.2.3 of the Constitution and EU Directive 2000/78/EC.
We also raised two related matters.
Firstly, the needs of religious minorities in relation to training for the position of Chaplains, as that has been developed with mainly the Catholic Church in mind. Read more…
An unlawful, systematic and stark attack on the right to not attend religious instruction
In most schools in Ireland the State Religious Education course is taught through the lens of the Catholic Church. Students are told that the course is suitable for all religions and none. Many students are coerced and some are forced into taking the course. The arrangements for students who wish to not attend religion classes are not put in Admission Policies, and families are left believing that there is no right to not attend religion classes.
Atheist Ireland’s Legal Opinion on the right to not attend religious instruction in schools states that this practice represents an unlawful, systematic and stark attack on the right to not attend religious instruction in State funded schools.
“My instructions (paras 59-75) suggest that the NCCA religion course for junior certificate was moulded with input from religious bodies who in turn designed guidelines for the supplementation of the NCCA junior certificate course with Catholic faith formation and development. It is impossible in those circumstances to see any justification whatsoever for withholding the right of a student to opt out of such a course.
Teaching Catholic instruction during the State religion syllabus, without offering a supervised opt out, represents an unlawful, systematic and stark attack on the right to not attend religious instruction in State funded schools. A student must as a matter of law be permitted by the school to opt out of Catholic instructions at school (paras 76-77).”
Atheist Ireland sent this Legal Opinion to the Minister for Education, Norma Foley. The Minister and the Department of Education have not contradicted this Legal Opinion. They have done nothing to protect the Constitutional rights of students to not attending religious instruction in schools. They continue to enable the Catholic Church to evangelise in schools.
There are no statutory guidelines in relation to the right to not attend religious instruction in schools even though this is the legal responsibility of the Minister. The right to not attend religious instruction is a condition of the State funding of schools.
Yet Patron bodies have control over the practical application of the right to not attend religious instruction in schools, because successive Minister’s for Education have just absolved themselves of that responsibility.
This has meant that no practical application is given to the right to not attend religious instruction in schools. The right has been attacked and disregarded because of deference to Catholic bodies and their evangelising mission. Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign to have this right vindicated for all parents. Read online…
Calling concerned teachers
If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
List of Atheist Ireland Submissions
Buy this book “Is My Family Odd About Gods?”
**Schools Special Offer**
As Covid continues and schools start back online, Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about gods‘ free (excluding postage and packaging). This means that you can get this book for the total price of 10 euro. This offer is aimed at families with school going children, who would like to read this book during their online school term. This offer is limited to one book per family unit and for postage within Ireland only. Read more…
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 $30,775 to 1068 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 ‘notme.ie‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1798 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 4,043 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 email@example.com.
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.
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You can join Atheist Ireland here.
Thank you for your continued support
Atheist Ireland Committee
Nigeria: Blasphemy – Kano Singer Appeals Against Retrial
By Ibrahim Shauibu
Kano — Kano musician, Yayaha Aminu-Sharif, who was recently freed of death penalty passed on him for blasphemy, has filed an appeal against a retrial for the same offence.
The two-ground notice of appeal was filed at the Court of Appeal in Kano.
The appellate division of the High Court of Kano State had on January 21 quashed the death sentence passed on Aminu-Sharif by an Upper Sharia Court in August last year.
But the High Court, which cited irregularities in the Sharia Court’s previous trial, ordered that Aminu-Sharif be tried afresh by the same court.
The High Court’s judgment was delivered by a panel of two judges, comprising the Chief Judge of Kano State, Nuraddeen Umar, and Nasiru Saminu.
Aminu-Sharif however, yesterday filed two grounds of appeal against the High Court’s decision, insisting that he ought to be discharged and acquitted instead of being ordered to be subjected to a fresh trial. Read more…
Raise awarness on blasphemy law abuse
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
The journey from Catholicism to a more peaceful way of life for some – Michael Nugent — from Catholic to atheist
By Joyce Feganr
Michael Nugent grew up in a typically Irish household when it came to religion; people went to Mass, but they weren’t evangelical or too orthodox about it.
In his home, he was always encouraged to ask questions and, later in life, this led him to having no faith in any religion.
“My parents were what I call cultural Catholics. My mother believed in God, but disagreed with the Catholic Church on various issues. My father was philosophically agnostic, but went to Mass and even did some of the readings.
My parents always encouraged me to think about things. They brought me to Mass as a child, but told me that I could make up my own mind when I got older. `
“I also read a lot of books that made me think about the wider world, and religion was one part of that,” says Michael.
It was in primary school when he had his own personal realisation that religion was story-based.
“When I was in primary school, we did a project over one Easter holiday to read the gospels and rewrite them in our own words. As I did that, I realised that the Jesus character was like a comic-book superhero doing amazing feats. From then, I knew that it was all just stories,” he says.
“I see faith as believing something that is not supported by evidence, and I try not to do that. Religion is just one example of faith,” he adds.
Michael describes being an atheist as living “without the simplicity and complications of believing things without reasonable evidence”.
While people who do not practise a faith often return to religion for a rite of passage or when a loved one dies, this was not the case for Michael.
“When my wife Anne was dying of cancer, we tried to live as much as we could for as long as we could. One morning as we cuddled in bed with our cats she said: ‘I’m really going to miss this.’ She then realised what she said and corrected herself: ‘No, I’m not. You’re really going to miss this.’ And that’s what I do. I miss Anne and I remind myself how lucky I was to meet her and live with her.”
Michael still goes to funerals of others and weddings too. He remembers the words from his time going to Mass as a child. Read more…
Northern Ireland viewer asks PSNI to probe ‘blasphemous’ RTÉ sketch under NI’s laws
By Amy Molloy
A TV viewer has issued a complaint alleging that an RTÉ comedy sketch which depicted God as a rapist is blasphemous under the laws in Northern Ireland.
The person this week made the complaint to Crimestoppers in the UK, asking for the matter to be referred to the PSNI to investigate as the programme aired in Northern Ireland and was available to watch on the RTÉ Player there.
Blasphemy is no longer an offence in the Republic, but it remains an offence under common law in Northern Ireland.
However, a PSNI source said they likely have no jurisdiction to investigate the matter.
The national broadcaster has received nearly 7,000 complaints to date about the sketch by satirical website Waterford Whispers in the New Year’s Eve Countdown Show on RTÉ One.
The show featured former RTÉ News anchor Aengus Mac Grianna – who later apologised – reading a satirical news bulletin about God being arrested for sexual harassment.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, denounced the broadcast as “deeply offensive and blasphemous”.
The Republic voted to remove blasphemy from the Constitution in a 2018 referendum.
It followed calls to reform Irish blasphemy laws after gardaí had to launch an investigation into English actor Stephen Fry in 2017 over comments he made on RTÉ show The Meaning of Life, hosted by the late Gay Byrne.
A member of the public reported the blasphemy allegation to Ennis garda station. Gardaí decided not to proceed further with the investigation against Mr Fry after they failed to find a large group of people outraged by his comments. Read online…
The survivors of Northern Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes
By Vincent Kearney
“So many times in my life I’ve just felt like this lost child. So many times.
“And I know I’m not that lost child anymore, but I still drift back to how I felt then.”
The words of a woman referred to as ‘NO’ in the Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland report, which was published this week.
She was sent to a home run by the Good Shepherd Sisters after becoming pregnant aged 16 in the 1980s.
Her baby son was put up for adoption, with his teenage mother left feeling she had no choice, telling researchers that social workers “made me sign these pages”.
Dreadful as that experience was, it was just the start of a lifetime of pain and trauma.
NO drank to excess, cut herself, attempted suicide and spent time in a psychiatric unit.
She kept a photograph of her adopted child with her at all times and slept with the photo.
The 533-page report is packed full of detail and facts and figures.
Starting on page 353 are the personal testimonies of those who spoke to the research team. The sense of loss, regret and heartache is clear.
Another woman, who was also 16 when she became pregnant, recalls the last time she saw her daughter, six weeks after she was born.
‘MN”s family took her to Thorndale House, a home run by the Salvation Army in north Belfast, in the 1960s. Read more…
Mother and baby homes inquiry’s lack of transparency was damaging
By Maeve O’Rourke, Claire McGettrick
The government announced its terms of reference for the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation in January 2015. Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) were immediately concerned about the commission’s limited remit: the investigation was restricted to 18 institutions, whereas we would inform the commission about 182 institutions, agencies and individuals involved in separating mothers and children in 20th-century Ireland.
We were also concerned that the government’s terms of reference ignored the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s request that the commission be required to assess the treatment of girls, women and their children by reference to the many meanings of abuse under Irish Constitutional and European and international human rights law.
Soon after the investigation began we learned that the commission would deny witnesses a transcript of their evidence. The commission would also choose to conduct its investigation entirely in private, although the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 gave it full discretion both to hold public hearings and to afford witnesses access to evidence gathered in the interests of justice.
ARA and JFMR knew we needed to act quickly to set up a parallel process to empower those affected. As voluntary groups we could not do it alone, and in June 2015 the global law firm Hogan Lovells agreed to work pro bono on a collaboration that became the Clann Project. Clann’s purposes were: 1) to provide free legal assistance to anyone who wished to submit a witness statement to the commission; and 2) to publish a group report and recommendations based on Constitutional and human rights law standards. Read more…
‘The brother whipped him until his back was bleeding, then gave him an orange to keep quiet’
By Órla Ryan
TENS OF THOUSANDS of children passed through Ireland’s industrial schools in the 20th century.
Several investigations and reports later, we know that many of them were physically, sexually and psychologically abused.
The latest Commission of Investigation focused on mother and baby homes and county homes. Its final report was published on 12 January, leading to a State apology by Taoiseach Micheál Martin the next day.
The familiar promises have now been made: redress, counselling and a vow to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Once formal adoption came into effect in 1953, it became the “most significant exit pathway for children” in mother and baby homes.
Both pre and post-1953, many children who were born in the institutions were adopted, sometimes illegally, or fostered.
The children who were not adopted or ‘boarded out’ were generally sent to industrial schools.
Joe McAveety was one of them.
He was born in the mother and baby home in Castlepollard in Co Westmeath in 1951. He believes he spent the first two years of his life there with his mother.
Katie McAveety was 25 when she became pregnant. She wasn’t a child but she wasn’t married either, so she ended up in the institution.
“From what I gather, I spent two years in the mother and baby home with my mother. I know my mother went through a hard time while she was there,” Joe tells TheJournal.ie.
He was sent to St Patrick’s Industrial School in Kilkenny when he was two years old, before being transferred to St Joseph’s Industrial School in Salthill in Co Galway when he was 10, remaining there until he was 16.
“My time in Kilkenny was not good, the nuns were very cruel to us boys,” Joe recalls.
“I remembered getting slapped in the head with a bunch of keys, that kind of thing. I’ll always remember when I was four years of age or five years, I was in a cot and I got a slap in the face from one of the nuns. Read more…
Protests return to Polish streets as anti-abortion ruling finally goes into force
By Daniel Tilles
Mass protests have once again erupted on the streets of Poland, after the government today finally moved to bring into force a court ruling that would introduce an almost complete ban on abortion in the country.
The ruling was issued by the Constitutional Tribunal in late October. It declared terminations in the case of foetal defects – which make up around 98% of all legal abortions in Poland – to be unconstitutional.
However, the tribunal’s judgements only enter into force once they are published by the government in the official Journal of Laws. The deadline for that to happen was 2 November, but the government failed to do so.
It claimed that more time was needed for “dialogue”. The court’s decision – which polls show is opposed by a large majority of the public – had prompted the largest demonstrations in Poland’s post-communist history.
Much of the protesters’ anger was directed against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party rather than the court itself, which is widely seen as being under the government’s influence. A contested judicial overhaul in 2016 saw PiS engineer its own judges onto the court, including appointing a close associate of party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński as chief justice.
The government also said last year that publication of the ruling could be delayed until the tribunal released its full justification (an argument rejected by legal scholars, who say that the government acted unconstitutionally by delaying implementation of the ruling).
Today, the Constitutional Tribunal finally published its justification. In the 154-page text, it argued that “a child not yet born [is] a human being” and therefore deserves protection under the constitution’s decree that “Poland shall ensure the legal protection of the life of every human being”.
After news of the justification emerged, the government’s spokesman confirmed that it would be published today in the Journal of Laws, bringing it into force.
Some commentators have noted that the ruling could still be interpreted in a way that does not eliminate all abortions justified by foetal defects. It may be possible, for example, for a doctor to argue that giving birth to a child with a severe defect could harm the mother’s physical or mental health, which would make a termination permissible.
Yet however it is interpreted, the ruling will make Poland’s abortion law – already the strictest in the European Union apart from Malta’s – even tougher. And it is likely to significantly reduce the already relatively low number of legal abortions (around 1,000 of which are performed annually). Read more…
The politicisation of the church is accelerating Poland’s secularisation
By Konstanty Pilawa
This article is published in cooperation with the Jagiellonian Club think tank.Last weekend, Poland witnessed the spectacle of the leader of its ruling party, for which Catholic rhetoric is a mainstay, politicking inside of a place of worship. His speech was met by applause from the priest and congregation, and silence from the episcopate. It would be hard to find a more evocative illustration of the state of the Catholic church in Poland.
Good versus evil
Last Saturday evening, Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, was present at a liturgy in the All Saints Church in Starachowice, the hometown of his late mother, Jadwiga Kaczyńska. Mass was held for her on the eve of the eighth anniversary of her death.
Immediately after the ceremony, the priest gave the floor to the most important person in Poland. The whole event was transmitted live at prime time on the public television news channel, TVP Info.
In his short speech, which was supposed to honour his late mother, Kaczyński warned of the evil that is plaguing the Polish nation and the church. This was an allusion to several women demonstrating outside the church, holding a banner protesting against plans to tighten the abortion law.
We then heard criticism of the political opposition, about how they were responsible for the Amber Gold financial affair. Also on the receiving end were the mythologised “post-communists”, toppled by PiS’s triumph in 2015. The speech was greeted with applause, including from the priest leading the mass, Karol Adamczyk.
The PiS chairman moved smoothly from remembering Jadwiga Kaczyńska, who defended Poland from the Nazi Germans through her underground activity in her hometown of Starachowice, to the need to defend the country from the modern embodiment of evil – the opposition as well as the abortion protestors on the streets.
From a dark historical analogy, Kaczyński created another rhetorical stick to beat his opponents with. His vision is very simple. On the one side, there is the camp representing truth, good, faith and historical justice, and on the other there is ZOMO (communist-era paramilitary-police formations), nihilism, the Nazis and the “Women’s Strike” (who are protesting against the anti-abortion ruling).
This is no overblown interpretation, but a straightforward interpretation of Saturday’s speech. This vulgar Manichaeism has ceased to mean anything other than political division. Kaczyński now has just one key message – if you are a good person, you vote for PiS and go to church; if you are evil, you shout outside the church and persecute good honest Poles. Read more…
Religion in Mexico declining – INEGI
By Yucatan Times
In 2020, despite the pandemic, the national census was conducted, as every 10 years. In this new registry released on Monday, January 25th, by INEGI, we see particularly interesting data regarding Mexican cities and their inhabitants. Among these interesting data, today we know that there are 126 million 14 thousand 24 inhabitants in Mexico. This represented an increase of 13 million 677 thousand 486 people, in relation to the 2010 Census. This population growth is the lowest since 1910 when a 0.5 percent drop was recorded.
Today we know “officially” how many Catholics are there in the country, the percentage of the population, and the decrease in the number of the faithful.
Let’s look at the behavior based on the numbers. At the beginning of the 20th century, in 1900, 99.1% of the population was Catholic, and by 1910, at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution, the percentage remained the same.
In 1930 it fell to 97.7%, but in 1950 it was 98.2%, with less than 1 percent growth. In 1970 it was 96.2%, and from that decade on, the percentage of Catholics as a percentage of the total population began to fall steadily. Catholics in 1990 were 89.7% of the population; in 2000, 87.9%, and by 2010, 82.7%. In 110 years, a reduction of 16 percentage points.
Although despite these historical decreases, the traditional Mexican family is Catholic and its absolute numbers. The country is still the second nation in the world with the most Catholics, only after Brazil, which is the first.
We can understand these figures in two ways:
1. That the number of Mexicans who call themselves Catholics, even if they are not practicing, is still very high.
2. That there is a downward trend as can be seen in the historical data. Just to give an example of this, from 1990 to 2010, the loss of Catholics was 6.7%.
In comparison with the history of previous censuses, it can be seen that the fall does not stop. Catholicism is ceasing to be attractive to an increasing number of Mexicans.
Today, 10 million 211 thousand 52 people say they have no religion. This represents 8.1 percent of Mexico’s population. This figure almost doubled concerning the census of 10 years ago, when this percentage was 4.7 percent. Meanwhile, people without a religious affiliation, but believers, reached 3 million 103 thousand 464 in 2020, while there was no record in 2010. Read more…
We Must Cement the Tattered Wall Separating Religion & Government
By Warren Blumenfeld
Everyone in our country has the right to hold any, or no, religious beliefs as they consider appropriate to suit their lives.
Though uplifting, progressive, and compassionate, in his benediction address at the inauguration of our 46th President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Reverend Dr. Sylvester Beaman invoked the name of “God” four times, “Divine favor” twice, and employed the pronoun “you” for God many times.
Biden himself said “God” four times in his speech and talked about what “the Bible says” quoting Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.”
Biden is certainly not unique but, rather, a member of the majority of Presidents, 27 out of the previous 45, who cited the Bible during their inaugural addresses with a total of 64 biblical passages.
George Washington argued for invoking the Bible during his first inaugural address when he cited Psalm 82: “It would be peculiarly improper,” he said, “to omit in this official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of the nations.”
At Biden’s inauguration ceremonies, in addition to the official speech and benediction, in song (“Amazing Grace”) and anthems, and in the Pledge of Allegiance,” “God” came up several times.
While I respect President Joe Biden’s decision to practice his Catholic faith, which he holds dear, I had hoped he and Vice President Kamala Harris might have set a new precedent by keeping religion out of their inaugural ceremonies as a measure to begin to repair the torn and tattered wall of separation between religion and government. But this was not to be.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 9, 2013, tapped the Rev. Louie Giglio of Atlanta’s Passion City Church to deliver the benediction during his second inauguration overlooking the Mall of the U.S. Capitol Building later that month. Less than 48 hours later with the controversy surrounding Giglio’s past statements about homosexuality, however, Giglio decided to withdraw from giving the address stating:
“It is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration.”
During his sermon, “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” delivered a decade earlier, Giglio told his parishioners that being gay is a sinful “choice” and that gay people will be prevented from “entering the Kingdom of God.” The “only way out of a homosexual lifestyle … is through the healing power of Jesus,” he continued.
At his first inauguration, Barack Obama chose Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. While Warren has been involved in some positive activities during his ministry, he has been a leading and outspoken opponent of LGBTQ equality. He worked as one of the chief lobbyists for the passage of Proposition 8 in California delegitimizing marriage for same-sex couples. Read more…
Now are you alarmed by the intrusions of religion into our secular government?
By Annie Laurie Gaylor
I’ve been reveling in watching the ad that Ron Reagan so obligingly recorded for the Freedom From Religion Foundation play on many of my choice late-night comedy news programs over the past two weeks. We placed the ad on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” on Comedy Central and “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS. For the first time, CBS agreed to play the ad nationally on my favorite program, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Wednesday night was particularly fun as it was a “triple-header,” with the punchy ad running on all three programs one after the other on the same night. Dan Barker and I never tire of watching Ron Reagan’s wry demeanor and his tagline, “unabashed atheist . . . not afraid of burning in hell.” But I confess that by the end of the evening, I was getting a bit tired and impatient waiting for the ad to appear on the “Late Show,” where it was scheduled to air close to the show’s conclusion.
Then suddenly, I went from impatient to electrified. Stephen Colbert remarked that his second guest Rep. Jackie Speier would be talking about surviving the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. As a 28-year-old, Speier was a legislative counsel for the honorable but doomed Rep. Leo Ryan, the only member of Congress ever to be assassinated. Ryan’s mistake was taking seriously the concerns of desperate family members of many of the more than 900 individuals Rev. Jim Jones had lured out of the country and into the remote jungles of Guyana — along with an armory of weapons, foster children and a treasury partly built up by public aid he was pocketing. Ryan led a fact-finding mission to confirm whether the followers of this Christian cult leader and madman were indeed being terrorized and falsely imprisoned. Read more…
Australian Satanists Want to Offer Religious Instruction in Public Schools
By Hemant Mehta
Public schools in Queensland, Australia offer one hour of religious education each week from an approved religious instructor. It’s not required — students who don’t participate can work on other materials — but it’s a part of the curriculum.
Now members of the Noosa Temple of Satan want to play ball.
Led by Brother Samael Demo-Gorgon, the church says that two parents have formally requested their kids be educated in Satanism.
… One family is from Wilston State School and the another is from Centenary State High — both Brisbane-based schools.
They have written to their respective principals to inform them that their children are to receive instruction from the Noosa Temple of Satan during school time.
Under Queensland law, our spiritual leader Brother Samael Demo-Gorgon will be able to enter these schools to provide one-hour scripture classes — just as Christian missionaries do! And the principals will not be able to refuse Brother Samael entry to school facilities.
The Satanic lessons will occur during classroom and non-Satanic kids will have to leave the room and stop normal lessons while Satanism is taught.
Brother Samael is super excited about the opportunity to spread the tenets of Satanism to new generations of Queenslanders.
That’s not entirely accurate. There are still hurdles the group needs to overcome, like getting approval from the Minister of Education. But that’s a fight the Satanists want. (Why should their beliefs be rejected while other ones get a green light?)
The idea that it might happen, however, led Cloe Read of the Courier-Mail to write an article (which isn’t online) with the headline “Schools Going to Hell if Satanists Win Rights.” It quotes Education Minister Grace Grace saying the push is “nothing but a stunt.” Read more…
Hate crime wording ‘discourages non-religious people from reporting crime’
By Humanists UK
Humanists UK has called for hate crime laws in England and Wales to be amended to make explicit that hatred against humanists is prohibited, in response to a call for evidence by the Joint Committee on Human Rights into freedom of expression.
The current situation is especially concerning in light of the harassment and abuse faced by many so-called ‘apostates’ (people who leave high-control religions), such as ex-Muslims and ex-Charedis, many of whom also identify as humanists.
Hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are or who someone thinks they are, this includes a person’s race, religion, disability, transgender identity, or sexual orientation.
Currently, the wording of hate crime legislation refers only to people who are religious or do not hold religious beliefs, but does not refer to people who positively hold non-religious worldviews such as humanism. However, under the Human Rights Act, hate crime laws must be read in a way as to protect non-religious worldviews. Furthermore, the fact that the relevant hate crime is known as ‘religious hatred’ also means that people who are the victims of hatred because of their lack of belief do not realise they are protected.
The lack of clarity on these points means that most people do not understand that such beliefs are protected, leading to almost half of apostate victims of hate crime being unaware that their experience amounted to a crime and just over half believing that they would not have been taken seriously or that no action would have resulted if they reported it to police.
Humanists UK also called for other measures to strengthen freedom of expression in the UK, including the abolition of blasphemy laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the introduction of national legislation on buffer zones outside abortion clinics, and welcomed previous action by the Joint Committee to protect freedom of expression on university campuses, which was brought about at Humanists UK’s prompting. Read more…
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