Secular Sunday #479 – Stay safe during the Covid lockdown

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Stay safe during the Covid lockdown


We hope that you are coping well during the current lockdown, and that you will get your Covid vaccine as soon as possible. Please try to stay in touch by phone or online with family and friends who might be lonely, as we all need to help each other through this pandemic.

There is no census this year because of the pandemic, so we won’t have data on the changes in religious demographics for some time. Because of this, Atheist Ireland is working on a report to approximate some of the changes based on previous census data.

We are also preparing a report for the United Nations, along with our colleagues in the Evangelical Alliance and Ahmadi Muslims, on religious discrimination in Irish schools, religious oaths for high offices, and freedom of religion and belief in the asylum process.

We look forward to the time when we can start to adapt to whatever the new normal will be when everyone has been vaccinated. It will be great to again meet up in person, in whatever way is possible and whenever it can happen.

Atheist Ireland is a voluntary group, and we depend on our membership to keep up our advocacy work. Please join Atheist Ireland as a member, and support our campaign for an ethical secular State that respects everybody equally.

– 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

From 2017….

Census report shows more nonreligious than all minority religions combined

Atheist Ireland welcomes today’s census report on religion published by the Central Statistics Office. We are increasingly optimistic that a secular Ireland is inevitable, free of religious privilege and religious discrimination against any citizens.
The census results on religion broke a significant barrier – more Irish people now have no religion (468,400) than members of all minority religions combined (439,000). That should encourage more atheists to stand up for our rights, particularly in the education system, and to support equal treatment for everyone, regardless of religious or nonreligious beliefs.
Another 125,300 people declined to answer the religion question. Some of the ‘not stated’ may be religious, but certainly not all of them. So the actual figure for No Religion, whatever it is, is over 10%. Also, in Dublin City, Dun Laoghaire and Galway, more than one in three of the population is non-Catholic.
It is important to note that the official census figures for Atheist (7,769) and Agnostic (5,198) are those small number of atheists or agnostics who, for whatever personal reasons, wrote ‘Atheist’ or ‘Agnostic’ under ‘Other Religion’, despite atheism and agnosticism not being religions.
In the run-up to the census, Atheist Ireland encouraged atheists who have no religion not to do this, but to instead tick the No Religion box. 468,000 people did that, compared to 269,000 five years ago. When Atheist Ireland was founded in 2008, the previous census had only 186,000 nonreligious.
However, we believe that these figures still greatly overestimate the strength of religion, and particularly Catholicism, in Ireland, for three reasons.

  • They are based on a flawed census question, that asked ‘What is your religion?’ This assumes that you have a religion. Studies have shown that more people say they have a religion when asked this, than do when asked ‘Are you religious?’ or ‘Do you have a religion?’
  • Census forms are frequently filled in by a parent, who may fill in a religion for other family members who are not in fact religious.
  • The evidence of day to day life, including Church attendance, indicates that far more than one in ten Irish people are not religious.

Also, for the first time, the Irish Census results include all religious minorities with thirty or more respondents. There are nearly sixty listed. Here are some of the more interesting facts:

  • More Lapsed Catholics (8,094) than Lapsed Church of Ireland (74)
  • More Jedi Knights (2,050) than Jews (1,929) or Jains (134)
  • More Rastafarians (114) than Pastafarians (92)
  • More Pastafarians (92) than Scientologists or Hare Krishnas (87 each)
  • More Kimbanguists (69) than Zoroastrians (35)
  • More Satanists (78) than Salvation Army members (52)
  • The smallest stated allegiances are Eckist and Theist (30 each)
  • Some wrote Atheist (7,477) or Agnostic (5,006) under ‘Other Religion’

Read online…

From 2016….

Atheist Ireland addresses UN Human Rights Council on blasphemy, schools and abortion

Atheist Ireland today told the UN Human Rights Council that Ireland needs to remove the ban on blasphemy, religious discrimination in schools, and the ban on abortion. In doing so we became the first atheist advocacy group to address the full UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Council was reviewing Ireland’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review process. We spoke as members of Atheist Alliance International, which has accredited observer status at the United Nations which enabled us to speak.
We will next be going to Warsaw, where we will address the annual OSCE human rights meeting on Monday and Tuesday.
Atheist Ireland’s speech

The chairs of both major UN Human Rights Committees have strongly criticised Ireland’s lack of separation of church and state.
Ireland now claims that it is constitutionally obliged (not merely permitted, but obliged) to allow religious discrimination, in order to buttress religion, including in publicly funded schools.
Ireland needs a Religious Equality Referendum to be able to meet its UN human rights obligations.
Law Against Blasphemy
Ireland should urgently hold a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation seeks global laws against defamation of religion. As part of this, Pakistan at the UN has cited specific language from the Irish blasphemy law.
Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, has advised us:
“The major damage done by this law is international. Those countries that have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask Western hypocrisy.”
Religious Discrimination in Education
Nine different sets of United Nations and Council of Europe committees have concluded that Irish schools breach the human rights of atheist and minority faith children, families and teachers.
Irish schools breach very fundamental human rights like freedom of religion and belief, freedom from discrimination, equality before the law, and no effective remedy.
Ireland should oblige publicly funded schools to deliver educational services, including employment, state curriculum and enrolment, in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner, and with no religious discrimination of any kind.
Law Against Abortion
We support the many recommendations to strengthen women’s right to abortion in Ireland.
We support the Campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, to enable the Irish Parliament to legislate for the right to abortion.

Other groups who spoke
A total of nine civic groups addressed the session about Ireland:
1. Action Canada for Population and Development
2. International Federation for Human Rights Leagues
3. British Humanist Association
4. Alliance Defending Freedom
5. Amnesty International
6. Atheist Alliance International / Atheist Ireland
7. Edmund Rice International Limited
8. International Service for Human Rights
9. International Planned Parenthood Federation
Atheist Ireland written submission
The following is the written statement that Atheist Ireland submitted for the Council Session.
An Atheist Alliance International affiliate, Atheist Ireland, campaigns in Ireland for an ethical secular State. Atheist Ireland supports this statement by Atheist Alliance International. Our priority issues for this UPR are:
1. Freedom of Religion and Belief Overview
2. Repealing the Irish Blasphemy Law
3. Ending Religious Discrimination in Irish Schools
4. Repealing the Irish Ban on Abortion

Read more…


Objective Religion Course

The Catholic Church objects to objective education about religion, beliefs and ethics because it requires teachers to adopt a pluralist approach to religion which goes against the philosophical basis of Catholic Religious education.
When the Dept of Education tried to introduce an objective course about religion, beliefs and ethics in primary schools the Catholic Bishops objected. Such a course was a Recommendation of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism.
The only objective course about religions and beliefs is in Educate Together schools.
The NCCA developed Religious Education curriculum at second level is not objective and neither is the GMGY course in Community National Schools at Primary level. If they were objective, critical and pluralistic the Catholic Church would have objected to them and they would not have been introduced into schools.


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?”

**Schools Special Offer**

As Covid continues and schools start back online, Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about godsfree (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  $30,100 to 1076 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 1810 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 4,047 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

Pakistan: Christian couple on death row for ‘blasphemous texts’ must be released


By Amnesty International


The Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a husband and wife facing death sentences after being convicted of sending ‘blasphemous’ text messages, said Amnesty International, ahead of an appeal hearing in the case at the Lahore High Court today.
Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who are Christians, have been in prison since 2013 and were convicted and sentenced to death in April 2014 by a Trial Court in Toba Tek Singh. The couple face execution for sending ‘blasphemous’ texts to a mosque cleric insulting the Prophet Mohammad, from a phone containing a sim registered in Shagufta’s name. Both deny the allegations and believe that the sim was obtained by someone using a copy of her National Identity Card
. Read more…

Australian citizen Zara Kay at risk in Tanzania


By Doughty Street Chambers


An Australian citizen and human rights defender, Zara Kay, has suffered unlawful and arbitrary detention, intimidation, harassment and serious threats to her safety in Tanzania, where she remains stranded.
Zara is an activist and human rights defender who founded the organisation “Faithless Hijabi”, which supports women ostracised or abused after leaving the Islamic faith, after her own experience of choosing to leave the faith. She moved to Australia in 2012 and got Australian citizenship in 2018, giving up her Tanzanian citizenship in the process. Zara has faced harassment, intimidation and threats in relation to this work and for her posts on social media (posted when she was in the UK), including posts criticising the Tanzanian government’s response to the Covid pandemic. Read more…

Mubarak Bala spends his 300th day in arbitrary detention


By Humanists International


Today, 22 February 2021, marks the 300th day of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala’s ongoing arbitrary detention. Humanists around the world are observing 300 second of silence to mark this date.
Human rights activist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria has now been held without charge for 300 days in a clear violation of his fundamental rights, enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and international instruments to which it is a state party.
In protest at his ongoing arbitrary detention, humanist activists across the globe will be observing a symbolic 300 seconds silence; one second for each day Bala has been detained – here is how to join the protest: 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




NI’s education review is a golden chance to take a stand for inclusion


By Alastair Lichten


Voters in Northern Ireland consistently rate education as a high priority. This was reflected in the prominence given to an independent review on education in the 2020 deal which restored devolution. Despite areas where NI schools perform extremely well, every challenge the system faces has its roots in, or is exacerbated by, the sectarian division. Read more…

Protest marks end of mother and baby homes commission’s term


By Marie O’Halloran


A protest was held on Saturday outside the office of the mother and baby homes commission to mark the end of its term. Mother and baby home survivors and campaigners lay baby shoes in a symbolic protest against the winding up of the commission and its controversial report. Read more…

‘If the Commission dissolves tomorrow, we’ll be denied justice’: Survivor says testimony was ‘misrepresented’


By Órla Ryan


If the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is dissolved as expected tomorrow, survivors will be “denied” justice, one witness has said. Síobhan, who gave birth to a son in Denny House in Dublin in the 1980s, gave testimony to the Commission in 2017. She says there were a number of inaccuracies in her testimony in the Commission’s final report.Read more…




Children in Poland withdraw from Catholic catechism classes amid abortion protests


By Daniel Tilles


Official data indicate that growing numbers of children are opting out of Catholic catechism classes. While that trend has been apparent for a few years, it seems to have been accelerated by the pandemic, education reform, and growing disillusionment with the church, including over a new near-total ban on abortion. The lessons, known as religia (religion), are hosted and financed by public schools but with curriculums and teachers (often priests or nuns) chosen by the church. Read more…

Muslim leaders should be questioned like anybody else


By Kenan Malik


Protests about the Woman’s Hour interview with Zara Mohammed ignore the fact that Emma Barnett’s no-nonsense style is unwavering The new leader of a high-profile organisation gets grilled by a go-get-’em journalist. Not exactly an unusual event. But Emma Barnett’s interview of Zara Mohammed, the newly elected leader of the Muslim Council of Britain (and its first female leader) on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour has caused ripples. Read online…

Atheists and believers have different moral compasses


By Laura Geggel


Atheists and believers have a moral compass, just not the same one.The moral compasses of atheists and believers are different in a few key ways, a new study finds. In some aspects, the moral compass was incredibly alike between the two groups; they both highly rated fairness and protecting the well-being of vulnerable people, for instance, and both highly endorsed liberty but not oppression.Read more…

Texas Bishop Blames Atheism for Every “Ill That Plagues Our Society”


By Hemant Mehta


The broader Christian church has a long sordid history of racism that is so well-known that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.” Christians didn’t cause racism but they’ve historically been part of the problem. Read more…

The evidence against faith schools is overwhelming


By Steven Kettell and Rebecca Vernon


A comprehensive new bank of academic research shows how shaky the main arguments for faith schools are, say its authors Steven Kettell and Rebecca Vernon. Since state-funded faith schools were radically expanded and diversified by the New Labour governments almost two decades ago, controversy around their place in the UK’s education system has never been far away. Read more…

He Was Charged With Blasphemy and Killed in Pakistan. Now His Daughter Wants Justice


By Naila Inayat


Last year, more than 200 cases of blasphemy were registered in Pakistan, where the crime can be punishable by death.  It’s not uncommon for Pakistanis to use accusations of blasphemy in cases of misguided revenge. Such accusations have resulted in vigilante murders and mob lynchings. Read more…

Satanist appeals for support to take on government after blasphemy prosecution


By Ronan McGreevy


The heavy-metal singer Nergal, aka Adam Darski, has fallen foul once again of the conservative government in Poland and is appealing a sentence for blasphemy. Nergal, a self-professed satanist who fronts the band Behemoth, fought a long-running battle with the Polish government over a previous charge of blasphemy; he won that one at trial in 2010. 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=FR1VvoNr4Kk]|*

Freethought Radio – Ideas & ideologies – Barbara Alvarez; James Lull

Friendly Atheist Podcast – The Catholic Church vs. a Mom’s OnlyFans Page
National Secular Society Podcast – Christian nationalism is a key part of Trump’s legacy

Media Watch

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




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