Pressure increases against new Catholic Sex Ed course
Pressure increased this week against the new Catholic Sex Education programme Flourish, which will tell primary school children that they are perfectly designed to procreate with God. Atheist Ireland has met with several TDs and Senators, outlining why the law needs to be changed to ensure objective sex education.
Several Oireachtas members have already raised concerns, including Senator Fiona O’Loughlin of Fianna Fail, Jennifer Carroll McNeill TD of Fine Gael; Donnchadh O Laoghaire TD of Sinn Fein, Roisin Shortall TD and Gary Gannon TD of the Social Democrats; Senator Ivana Bacik of of the Labour Party, Paul Murphy TD, Mick Barry TD, and Brid Smith TD of Solidarity/People Before Profit, and independent TD Thomas Pringle.
Minister for Education Norma Foley has repeated the pledge in the Programme for Government to change law if necessary to ensure inclusive sex education. But she is relying on the NCCA for advice on the best way to do this, and the NCCA has consistently claimed that they cannot advise the Minister to change the law.
Atheist Ireland will continue to lobby for the necessary changes in the Education Act to prevent schools from delivering sex education through their religious ethos, and the necessary changes in the Employment Equality Act to protect teachers who refuse to teach Catholic sex education.
Please join Atheist Ireland as a member to help us to continue this important work. We are a voluntary body with no government grants or paid staff, and we rely on our members and supporters to continue our work.
– Secular Sunday Editorial Team
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Atheist Ireland News
Education Minister cannot rely on NCCA to deliver objective sex education – the law must change
In the Dail yesterday Donnchadh O’Laoghaire from Sinn Fein asked the Minister for Education about sex education in schools. You can view and read the full exchange here. In her response the Minister acknowledged that RSE was an important right for students. She also said that:
“The Department of Education is working closely with the NCCA which continues the process of curricula development and publishing additional resources for SPHE and RSE to determine the approach to best give effect to this commitment in the Programme for Government and this does include legislative change if necessary.”
But the Minister cannot rely on the NCCA for advice about whether legislative change is necessary. In principle, the NCCA are obliged to take into account the practical application of their recommendations, but in practice, they claim that they cannot advise the Minister to change the law. They therefore make recommendations that are restricted by the current law, which means that the problem is not properly addressed.
Legislative change is necessary
Legislative change is necessary as the legal position now is that RSE can be delivered according to the ethos of the Patron. The introduction of Flourish shows the need for legislative change, but even without Flourish a look at RSE policies in schools shows that ethos has a significant impact on the delivery of RSE at primary and second level.
If the issue of ethos is meaningless then why is it still in place? The fact of the matter is that children can still be refused access in some schools because of ethos, teachers can be fired because of ethos, minorities are forced into religion classes in schools because of ethos, yet the final Report from the NCCA has said that it comes way down the list of teacher priorities in the delivery of RSE.
Legally schools are obliged to provide health education for students, and to consult with parents while having regard to the ethos of the school (Section 9 (d) Education Act 1998). Consulting parents doesn’t mean the ethos of a school is going to change. That just doesn’t happen. Even if all the parents and students want objective RSE, that doesn’t mean that they are going to get that.
Under the Irish Constitution parents have all the rights but have no practical power on the ground in schools. That legal power rests with the Patron, the Patron in most cases is the Catholic Bishops. Boards of Management are obliged to uphold the ethos of the Patron and Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act is still in place, which obliges teachers to uphold the ethos of the school. Parents and students take second place with regard to the teaching of RSE in schools.
Final Report from NCCA in 2019 dismissed ethos as a factor in RSE
In December 2019 the NCCA published their Report on RSE and recommended no legislative change to ethos. They dismissed the influence of ethos in the delivery of Relationship and sexuality education because they said that those working in schools put ethos well down a priority list in which teacher qualification, teacher professional support, time allocation, an up-to-date curriculum and support materials, attracted greater priority.
They also said that when a clearly articulated curriculum and support materials are not in place there is inevitable doubt about what teachers should be teaching and school ethos can then be used as a way of avoiding sensitive topics in some instances. In other words they believe that all is needed is an updated RSE course, teacher training, support materials and guidelines and the issue of ethos will go away. This assumes that we’ll all just put our heads in the sand, and pretend that it is not in the Education Act 1998. Read more…
Education minister repeats pledge to change law if necessary to ensure inclusive sex education
In the Dail yesterday Donnchadh O’Laoghaire from Sinn Fein asked the Minister for Education about sex education in schools. The Catholic Bishops have introduced a course called Flourish to primary schools. Flourish is Catholic sex education, and the programme is to be taught alongside curriculum Relationship and Sexuality education.
Here is the Dail exchange between Deputy Ó Laoghaire and the Minister. You can read Atheist Ireland’s assessment of the Minister’s response here. We explain why the Education Minister cannot rely on NCCA to deliver objective sex education, and why the law must change to prevent religious ethos from influencing the delivery of sex education.
65. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education her views on the current position that the religious ethos of a school can impact the relationships and sexuality education, RSE, curriculum being taught in that school; and the legislative changes she will make to ensure the RSE programme is uniform, age appropriate and fully inclusive across all schools. [25043/21]
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire
RSE is vitally important. It is also vitally important that we get it right, because if we do not then we risk our children growing into adults who potentially have a feeling of being othered, a disfigured or unhealthy understanding of sexuality and a feeling of exclusion and discomfort within the educational setting. The Minister will be aware that there is a significant amount of concern about some of the programmes that are being provided in schools at present.
Minister for Education
Access to sexual and health education is an important right for students. Social, personal and health education, SPHE, is a mandatory curriculum subject in all primary and post-primary schools. Relationships and sexuality education is required at all levels, from primary through to senior cycle. The Department has set out the content for each of these programmes in SPHE syllabuses and guidelines.
All schools are required to have an RSE policy that is developed through engagement and in consultation and collaboration with the school community, including school management, parents, teachers and students, as appropriate. The school’s programme for RSE is developed and taught in the context of the school’s RSE policy.
Schools are required to teach all aspects of the RSE programme, including family planning, sexually transmitted infections and sexual orientation. It is important to note that the ethos of the school should never preclude learners from acquiring the knowledge about the issues, but ethos may influence how that content is treated.
The programme for Government states that the Government will develop inclusive and age-appropriate curricula for relationships and sexuality education, RSE, and social, personal and health education, SPHE, across primary and post-primary schools, including an inclusive programme on LGBTI+, and will make appropriate legislative changes, if necessary. The Department of Education is working closely with the National Council for Curriculum and assessment, NCCA, which continues the process of curricular development and publishing additional resources for SPHE and RSE to determine the approach to best give effect to this commitment in the programme for Government. This will include legislative change, if necessary.
The report on the review of relationships and sexuality education – the RSE programme – in primary and post-primary schools was published by the NCCA in December 2019. As part of the review of RSE, an extensive consultation occurred. Feedback was facilitated through an online survey, written submissions, round-table meetings and large events. Adjustments were made to the final report to reflect a stronger focus on issues that stakeholders wished to see highlighted. The NCCA is developing updated guidance materials for schools. It has established two development groups, which are currently working on the specifications, with a particular focus on the updating of the syllabus at junior cycle level.
Sinn Féin supports changes in law to ensure that inclusive sex education is delivered uniformly
Sinn Féin supports changes in the law to ensure that inclusive sex education is delivered uniformly across all schools regardless of the religious ethos of the patron. The party has told Atheist Ireland that:
“Sinn Féin share your view that, legislative reform of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in schools is long overdue. We know that there are significant variations in the content and scope of RSE across schools, more often than not depending on the school’s ethos.
No child should feel that their identity, their sexual orientation or their family circumstance is lesser, because they are not included in the sexual education programme as prescribed by their school, the ethos of that school or by their teacher. Legislative reform is the only way to ensure that a uniform, comprehensive and inclusive sexual education is undertaken in all schools.
The NCCA are in the process of preparing a new RSE syllabus. We hope that this will improve the quality of sexual education available here. However, we acknowledge that this will not address the fact that religious organisations will still have a significant input in the sexual education programme in many schools.
For too long now, the characteristic spirit clause in the Education Act 1998 has meant that ethos-based schools are free to leave out certain aspects of the curriculum where they believe these do not match the ‘characteristic spirit’ of the school. Due in large part to this outdated legislation, schools are able to pick and choose parts of the curriculum to deliver to their students, meaning many key areas are often being skimmed over or left out entirely.
Young people want to be fully informed and want to know how to be safe in any relationships they have or may have. We must trust young people enough to properly equip them with the skills necessary to feel confident discussing these matters. School is where this process must begin, and we fully support legislative reform to ensure that RSE in all schools is uniform, comprehensive and inclusive for all.”
Solidarity and People Before Profit TDs say Objective Sex Education Bill must be passed
Solidarity and People Before Profit TDs say the Oireachtas should pass their Objective Sex Education Bill, to ensure that school ethos cannot influence the delivery of sex education by the Catholic Bishops in their role as patrons of most of our schools.
Paul Murphy TD introduced the Bill in 2018. It passed the second stage in the Dail, but was then blocked by the government using a procedural mechanism called a Money message.
Its relevance has been emphasised by the recent publication of Flourish, the new sex education programme by the Catholic Bishops that is based on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Paul Murphy TD says:
“The bottom line point is that all students, regardless of what type of school are in, deserve and are entitled to objective sex education. We need complete separation of church and state, which means that no schools would be under any church control.
However, given that church control is unfortunately a reality now, we need to act to ensure that students in all schools get objective sex education. It is not enough to come up with a progressive curriculum, because a school can simply refuse to deliver it under the guise of it going against the ‘religious ethos’ of the school.
That is why the central point of the Objective Sex Education Bill is to amend the Education Act 1998 to remove the barrier of religious ethos.”
Mick Barry TD says:
“The recent publication of the Catholic church’s RSE programme called ‘Flourish’ for primary schools which sex and puberty as ‘gifts from God’, that ‘sexual love belongs within a committed relationship’, and hails marriage as a ‘sacrament of commitment’ dramatically highlights the urgent need to pass the Objective Sex Education Bill.
This RSE programme teaches the primacy of heterosexual marriage and will leave LGBTQ students, and students with LGBTQ parents and family members feeling marginalised a devalued. This is a harmful in the development of young people.
All children and young people in our education system a right to RSE that is free from religious teachings. It would not be acceptable to teach maths, science, or languages mixed with religious teachings, it should not be acceptable with RSE.
The government is currently using a technical measure – a money message – to block the Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill from progressing through the Dáil. This is unacceptable and we would urge people to demand of their local government TDs to stop blocking this Bill.”
Thomas Pringle TD calls for inclusive sex education not the Catholic Flourish course
Independent TD Thomas Pringle has called for age appropriate, inclusive, and diverse relationship and sex education in Irish schools. He says:
“Get your rosaries off our ovaries.” How long has this slogan been around Ireland? From hospitals to schools and everywhere in between we have the evidence of the Catholic Church dictating access to information on sexual and reproductive healthcare and also blocking that access. The disentanglement of the Church and State must happen sooner rather than later.
With the great strides we have taken as a country for inclusion of our LGBTQI+ friends and family, why would we allow children to be made feel ‘wrong’ in school? There should be age appropriate, inclusive, and diverse relationship and sex education.
I agree with the recommendation of the Citizens Assembly on the Eighth Amendment and those of the Joint Committee on the Eighth amendment for the need for improvements in this area in primary and post-primary schools. I also agree with the issues highlighted in October 2020 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the 2017 recommendation of the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
We have been talking about this for years and now that the Flourish RSE course has been published by the Catholic Bishops we cannot stand by and allow out-of-date heteronormative relationship and sexuality schools to take precedence in schools. We also have to ensure that teachers who refuse to follow the catholic ethos in schools do not face disciplinary procedures. We need to stand together, against the Church.”
Labour wants Citizens’ Assembly to resolve school ethos and sex education, says Ivana Bacik
The Labour Party has called for the Government to commit as a priority to convening a Citizens’ Assembly on the Future of Education to examine a range of issues, including the relationship between Church and State after the publication of the new Catholic Church RSE programme.
Senator Ivana Bacik has said:
“There is a commitment in the Programme for Government for a Citizens Assembly on the Future of Education. While there is a large number of issues that such an assembly would address, the dominant role of the Catholic Church as a school patron was highlighted once again recently with the publication of their new sex education programme Flourish.
The sex education programme of the Catholic Church should not be the dominant RSE programme taught in our state funded primary education system. Addressing this though requires a root and branch look at our education system.
It is simply no longer acceptable for religion to influence what should be a fact based RSE programme in our schools.
It’s time for a national conversation about how we achieve a modern, secular and equality-based education system for the Ireland of today, and what we hope to achieve for tomorrow.
Ireland is different now compared to when our constitution was written, when the role of religion in our education system was enshrined through Articles 42 and 44. Religion should not be the overarching principle that underpins our education system, nor should it be the way by which children are segregated at a young age.
Instead of a public education system, we have a State funded education system which farms out responsibility for the running of schools to patron bodies.
The legislative and policy changes introduced to date on how we hire teachers, allow schools enrol pupils, and how patronage is awarded and divested, are limited by our basic law. To fundamentally change our education system, the Constitution must change, and that should start with a meaningful and considered analysis, discussion and debate through a Citizens’ Assembly.”
President Higgins says religious oath for President should go
The Irish Constitution requires the President to take a religious oath in order to take office.In a recent interview with BBC Radio Ulster the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins said that, in a new Ireland, “one should just affirm” (that is, make a secular affirmation instead of a religious oath).
But if you should be able to affirm to take office in a new Ireland, you should also be able to affirm in the present Ireland. The obligatory religious oath is either right or wrong in either situation.
This is the first time that an Irish President has supported the removal of the Constitutional requirement for Presidents to take a religious oath in order to take office.
This obligatory oath undermines the right to freedom of religion and belief. It is religious discrimination and bars conscientious atheists from taking high office in Ireland.
William Crawley from BBC Talkback show interviewed President Higgins last week. You can find the full interview here.
Here is the segment on religious oaths.
“People can believe what they like but when you became President of Ireland you had to take an oath in the name of the trinity.”
Do you think in a new Ireland that’s a problem.
Yes, I think that one should just affirm, I agree with you, that’s one of the changes. There are many many changes.
That should go?
Yes, I do.
How do you expect a Muslim for example, who might be president of Ireland, couldn’t take the oath right.
Well, then again as well as that I would also think that if a member of the royal family in Britain wanted to become a catholic they shouldn’t interfere with their vocational aspirations either.”
Write to your child’s school to object to the new Catholic sex education course
The Catholic Bishops have published a new sex education course called Flourish for primary schools.
Flourish can be taught alongside curriculum Relationship and sexuality education in schools with a Catholic ethos. The vast majority of schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church. Your school may decide to ignore their legal obligation to uphold the catholic ethos of the school but we have already been informed that some schools intend to introduce it.
You can read about Flourish here.
If you object to the introduction of Flourish in your child’s school the following is a draft letter that you can send to the Board of Management of your school. You can send it as a parent/guardian or as a group of parents.
This draft letter was sent to us by parents, and you can use it to object to the introduction of Flourish in your child’s school.
Draft Letter for schools
I/We are writing to you to draw your attention to the recent publication of the Flourish Programme. This is the new Catholic ethos Relationships and Sexuality Programme proposed by the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association and created by the Council for Catechetics of the Irish Bishops Conference.
As (a) parents of primary aged school children I/we do not feel the Flourish programme is fit for purpose when teaching RSE to children. It is discriminatory to LGBTQ+ children and families and it does not correspond with state policy.
What is taught to all children in Ireland especially in regards to sexual education should be fact based and what all the children hear should be free from influence of a religious ethos.
“Do we really want LGBTQ+ children in schools, who may be struggling with their sexual orientation to be taught that their relationships are in any way less were they, meaningful, loving, or deserving of respect than their heterosexual peers, because that is the influence of this program,” (From Roisin Shortall’s statement in Leader’s question on April 29, 2021.)
She went on to say:-
“Sex education needs to be fact based, and facts do not have an ethos.”
As parents I/we agree with her thorough analysis of the projected discrimination and damage to children that the Flourish programme would cause.
This programme is designed to intertwine God and the beliefs of the Catholic Church into every aspect of Relationships and Sexuality as it is being taught to our children in primary schools. This goes against international best practice (Pound et al, 2017; Haberland and Rogow, 2015) and is a massively retrograde step in terms of building an open society that accepts all beliefs, sexualities and genders.
The conflating of a religious programme with Relationships and Sexuality Education will inevitably result in confusion for children as they grow and mature into adults. In every single aspect of Flourish, God and/or Jesus is mentioned, this is not a thorough and scientifically accurate programme as recommended by research. It is a programme that is designed to further the teachings of the Catholic Church.
It shows a complete failure to align the teaching of RSE in primary and secondary schools. This approach goes against the recommendation that the programme is taught in a spiral manner from primary through to secondary school with greater depth given to similar topics as the students grow and mature.
Flourish will result in a disconnect between a religious approach taken in the 90% of primary schools under Catholic Management and the non religious approach taken by secondary schools to RSE. We cannot see how this will not cause confusion for our young people who are being told as children that ‘puberty is a gift from God’ and on the other that it is the biological changes that occur in our bodies as we move from childhood to adolescence.
The teaching of RSE in our schools has been a contentious issue for years and has led to a confusion and a reluctance on the part of teachers to address some of the more controversial aspects of sex and sexuality (Keating et al 2018; NCCA 2019). In a modern world where genders range from male and female to transgender and intersex; where responsible sex is more than abstinence until after marriage; where relationships are homosexual and heterosexual, we need to be openly addressing these topics with our children and not brushing them further under the carpet and creating the dark shadows that caused so much pain and heartache in the past. Read more…
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 $31,950 to 1110 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 1837 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 4,056 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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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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Atheist Ireland Committee
Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare
Please contact your TDs over the National Maternity Hospital.
TEMPLATE LETTER FOR TDS
I am writing to you as a constituent. We urgently need your support.
The Religious Sisters of Charity takeover bid for the new maternity hospital must be stopped now before it is too late. The contracts drawn up between the nuns’ company, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, Holles Street Hospital and the State are almost ready to go to government.
We do not want to see the operations of the new maternity hospital in private ownership, nor should it be ruled by church teaching.
Holles Street Hospital is to be stripped of its independence. The nuns have ensured that the new maternity hospital will be run on their terms, and that it will only provide reproductive health services that comply with their congregational code.
The new hospital––that we are funding––must provide a full range of reproductive health services. We still remember the shocking circumstances under which Savita Halapannavar lost her life. We cannot have a situation where more lives will be lost during a wanted pregnancy, as hers was.
The Religious Sisters of Charity own the freehold of the hospital site. They plan to grant a lease to government to build the new facility. This lease will allow the State to build the hospital on condition that exclusive operating rights are given, by way of licence, to a company to be owned by the nuns’ new entity, St Vincent’s Holdings.
This is an arrangement that leaves the State powerless. The State cannot compel a private Catholic hospital to provide services, such as IVF, contraception, abortions or intentional sterilisations, that are contrary to its ethos.
Yet we are expected to pay for this.
The State is to have no involvement in St Vincent’s Holdings. Our only role is to pay: the building costs alone are currently estimated at €500 million. After the hospital is built, we, the taxpayers, will be funding all maintenance and running costs in perpetuity.
This is not good enough in 2021. If we pay, we own. The National Maternity Hospital needs to be taken into public ownership.
Follow the campaign here.
Guarantee factual and objective Relationships and Sexuality Education in Irish schools
By Concerned Irish parents
Young people, teachers and parents are faced with an education system that puts the ethos of schools, largely religious, ahead of the needs of young people.
While the Department requires that topics such as contraception, LGBTQ and STIs are covered in Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE), there is no requirement for this to be done in a factual and objective manner. Read more and Sign here…
Blasphemy a tool to silence women’s rights activists in Pakistan
Islamabad [Pakistan], May 8 (ANI): The charge of blasphemy has been used as a tool to silence many in Pakistan, especially annual Aurat March that continues to be targeted with unsubstantiated allegations, and scandalized by, as experts call then, upholders of patriarchal inertia. Read more…
Nigeria: U.S. Unhappy Over Jailing of Nigerians for Blasphemy
By Festus Akanbi
The United States government has criticised how Nigerian courts have continued to sentence citizens to long jail terms for blasphemy and death. The US position was disclosed by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during the release of the 2020 International Religious Freedom Report this week. Read more…
Raise Awareness about blasphemy laws
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 Thousand Day Old GDPR Complaint: Leaving The Church
By Marty Meany
It’s time I put pen to paper on an update here. It’s well over 1,000 days since I lodged my GDPR complaint against the Diocese of Ossory. Coming up on three years later, I’ve learned a lot but. Unfortunately, one thing I’ve not learned is what the outcome is going to be. Not even close. On a personal level, I have found more meaning than I ever thought possible in this whole journey as it’s become more clear than ever why I’m trying to leave the Catholic Church using European Data Protection law, also known as GDPR
. Read more…
Women must get secular maternity healthcare
Controversy over the private ownership and control of the new National Maternity Hospital has been reignited following the briefing given by the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare to Oireachtas members, which was hosted by Deputy Roisin Shortall on April 26. Read more…
Dáil hears children risk being ‘othered’ over sexuality education
By Tommy Meskill
Sinn Féin’s Education spokesperson has told the Dáil that children risk being “othered” due to the way sexual health education is being taught in schools.
During a question-and-answer session with the Minister for Education this morning, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire expressed concern that the Relationship and Sexuality Education programme (RSE) is not always being taught in an objective way. Read more…
‘Children need lessons in relationship and sexuality – but without Catholic Church influence’
By Maire de Barra
A group of concerned parents and teachers in Cork have started a conversation about the place of religion in the teaching of Relationships and Sexuality Education in our schools, following the publication of the recent Flourish report. Member Maire de Barra tells us more. WHAT is RSE? It is the most important class our students take. Read more…
Is the Information Commissioner a moron?
By John Hamill at The Freethought Prophet
Under the terms of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, we have now been seeking documents from the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) for more than three years. This time has been taken up by various appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) and other public bodies, which have so far cost more than €300. Throughout this period, the details reported to the OIC by the PDST have evolved through several mutually contradictory positions. Read more…
How Can Nonbelievers Defend Themselves Against Religious Persecution?
By Tyler Broker
Last Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, which President Joe Biden celebrated by giving this speech that, in part, stated: Today, we remember and celebrate the role that the healing balm of prayer can play in our lives and in the life of our Nation. As we continue to confront the crises and challenges of our time — from a deadly pandemic, to the loss of lives and livelihoods in its wake, to a reckoning on racial justice, to the existential threat of climate change — Americans of faith can call upon the power of prayer to provide hope and uplift us for the work ahead. Read more…
New Lords Bill seeks to legalise assisted dying
By Humanists UK
A Bill that proposes to legalise assisted dying for adults of sound mind who have six or fewer months left to live has secured seventh place in the House of Lords Private Members’ Bill ballot. The Bill is being put forward by Baroness Meacher, who is the Chair of Dignity in Dying. Humanists UK, which campaigns for a right to die for both those with terminal or incurable illnesses, has welcomed the Bill for creating a much needed opportunity for debate. Read more…
Bill to end compulsory worship in non-faith schools proposed
By National Secular Society
A bill that would end a requirement to hold acts of collective worship in schools without a religious character in England is set to be presented to parliament. The bill, from Liberal Democrat peer Lorely Burt, would replace worship with assemblies which are inclusive of pupils regardless of religion or belief. The bill was drawn ninth in a ballot of private members’ bills this week, meaning there is a decent chance it will be debated in this parliamentary session. Read more…
Faith universities are an anachronism
By Keith Sharpe