Secular Sunday #498 – Debutante film to have online premiere

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Debutante film to have online premiere


Debutante, a short film about religious control and coming-of-age in a hostile environment, will have its online premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh on 24th July. Atheist Ireland are official partners of the film by Kamila Dydyna, a Polish filmmaker based in Dublin.

In Debutante, Meg’s simple life revolves around her duties as a Jehovah’s Witness and a platonic relationship with her boyfriend Sam. It all goes well until she is summoned to a judicial committee hearing, where three congregation elders shatter Meg’s carefully-constructed world.

Debutante is more than a film about one religion. It is a coming-of-age drama about the disintegration of a teenager’s identity. Kamila hopes that it will bring comfort to anyone who has experienced shunning, for religious or other reasons.

Atheist Ireland supports the use of the arts to challenge harmful ideas, and we congratulate Kamila on the making of this film. We are a voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. Please join Atheist Ireland as a member and help us to promote an ethical secular Ireland.

– 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


Debutante film to premiere online at Galway Film Fleadh


Debutante, a short film about religious control and coming-of-age in a hostile environment, will have its online premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh on 24th July. Atheist Ireland are official partners of the film by Kamila Dydyna, a Polish filmmaker based in Dublin.
In Debutante, Meg’s simple life revolves around her duties as a Jehovah’s Witness and a platonic relationship with her boyfriend Sam. It all goes well until she is summoned to a judicial committee hearing, where three congregation elders shatter Meg’s carefully-constructed world.
Debutante stars Úna O’Brien, Arthur Riordan, Richard Neville, Sam McGovern, Gary Mullan, Noelle Brown, and Anthony O’Boyle. You can buy tickets to watch it on the Galway Fim Fleadh website.
In Debutante, Meg faces the ultimate threat of being ‘disfellowshipped’ or shunned by the community which she has grown up to believe to be the only route to salvation. Shunned people effectively become ghosts, with no interaction from their friends or even family members.
Filmmaker Kamila is a former Jehovah’s Witness. Her script is based on the collective experience of herself and many young Jehovah’s Witnesses that she knew. The Jehovah’s Witnesses religion controls its members by restricting their sexuality and shunning them if they don’t keep to the rules.
Each year up to 70,000 former Jehovah’s Witnesses have to start new lives and address mental health issues after being shunned or leaving the religion. But a dramatic short film like Debutante, by focusing on just one person, can be more powerful than any amount of statistics.
Debutante is more than a film about one religion. It is a coming-of-age drama about the disintegration of a teenager’s identity. Kamila hopes that it will bring comfort to anyone who has experienced shunning, for religious or other reasons.
This is Kamila’s third short film. The award-nominated Testimony is about a child testifying in a domestic abuse court hearing. The Betrayal is an LGBT drama about a wife who grapples with feelings for her best friend. Both films were screened in festivals globally and broadcast on RTÉ. Read online…

The Broadcasting Authority should not enforce respect for unethical religious beliefs


The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has released its report about the RTE comedy sketch on New Year’s Eve, in which the police arrest the Christian god for sexual harassment against Mary, and the courts find him guilty but release him.
The BAI Committee found that the sketch breached three principles of the Code of Programme Standards. In this article, we will address one of these, Principle 5, which is about Respect for Persons and Groups in Society.
Principle 5 requires that persons and groups in society are represented in a manner which is appropriate, justifiable, and does not prejudice respect for human dignity, which includes showing due respect for religious views, images, practices and beliefs. Under Principle 5:

“The Committee noted the sketch effectively accused God of sexual violence and sexual crimes. The Committee concluded that this treatment of a religious figure did not show due respect for religious views and beliefs and did not constitute critical scrutiny of religion. The Committee decided that the programme did not comply with Principle 5 of the Code.”

But the sketch was not about “persons and groups in society,” unless you take that to mean the police and the courts. The sketch was focused on a supernatural being called God, and Ireland has recently held a referendum to permit satire of such ideas.
Also, Principle 5 does not require unqualified respect for religious beliefs. It requires “respect for human dignity,” which includes “due respect” for religious beliefs. So what happens when respect for human dignity clashes with respect for an unethical religious belief?
In this case, the religious belief is that a supernatural entity impregnated a human girl in her early teens or younger, who obviously did not have the capacity to knowingly consent to being impregnated on the word of a stranger.
Today in Ireland, Catholic schools teach six year old infants that “Mary says YES!” to God “working through her” by making her pregnant, despite Mary being afraid, confused and not understanding what was going on.
How much respect should be “due” to such an unethical and dangerous belief, particularly when it is being taught in Irish schools to impressionable infants?
The Committee did not address this nuance in its findings under Principle 5. Instead, it simply concluded that the sketch “effectively accused God of sexual violence and sexual crimes” and this “does not constitute critical scrutiny of religion.”
Sexual violence and sexual crimes
But this is an accurate portrayal of the God character portrayed in the Bible. This character not only condones sexual violence and sexual crimes, but sometimes actively orders them to happen. For example:
  • In Genesis 19, a mob wants to rape two angels who are staying in Lot’s house in Sodom. Lot tells them to rape his two virgin daughters instead.
  • In Genesis 38, Onan refuses to impregnate his dead brother’s wife, instead pulling out before he comes, so God kills him for not impregnating her.
  • In Exodus 4, God decides to kill Moses because his son is not circumcised, then lets him live when Moses’ wife Zipporah circumcises their son with a sharp stone.
  • In Numbers 31, God directs Moses’ army to defeat the Midianites, and Moses instructs them to kill every man, woman and child apart from virgin women, who they should keep alive for themselves.
  • In Deuteronomy 21, soldiers are told that if God delivers them captives, and they notice a beautiful woman among them captives, they can take her as their wife and shave her head and decide after a month if they want to keep her.
  • In Judges 19, a mob gang-rapes a woman who dies, then her master chops up her body into twelve pieces and sends them to the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • In 1 Samuel 18, David kills 200 Philistines and uses their foreskins to buy his wife Michal from Saul.
  • In 2 Samuel 12, God is angry with David so he gets David’s son Absolem to rape David’s wives.
  • In Mark 1, the Holy Ghost comes upon Mary and covers her with the power of God, so that she will become pregnant with the son of God.
  • In Revelation, God says he will kill the children of Jezebel for the sexual sins of their mother.
In this context, how could the Committee conclude that “effectively accusing God of sexual violence and sexual crimes” does not constitute “critical scrutiny of religion”?
Christians could of course be selective in their beliefs about what their god says, and could argue that they were not crimes in previous times. But this unethical argument is addressed in the sketch by the God character saying “That was 2,000 years ago” when he is arrested.
We will address elsewhere other aspects of the Broadcasting Authority’s decision. For now we want to highlight the error of concluding that “effectively accusing God of sexual violence and sexual crimes” does not constitute “critical scrutiny of religion.” Read online…


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**
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. 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  $32,950 to 1146 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 1859 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 4,076 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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Please consider joining or re-joining Atheist Ireland

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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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You can join Atheist Ireland here.

Thank you for your continued support

Atheist Ireland Committee


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



Wynne insists concerns over NMH ‘legitimate’

By Fiona McGarry


Relocating the proposed new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) cannot be ruled out in the interests of ensuring women’s healthcare is free of religious influence, a Clare TD has said. Plans to move the facility from Holles Street to a site beside St Vincent’s Hospital have been bogged down in controversy over governance and ownership. Read more…


Get your rosaries off my ovaries – The Catholic Church v Ireland’s new maternity hospital

By John Spain


Get your mitts off my bits. Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.  The catchy slogans were being used again at protests here last week over who will have the final say at the new National Maternity Hospital to be built in Dublin. Will it be the state, which is paying to build the hospital?  Or will it be the nuns, who control the ownership of the land on which it is to be built?  Read more…

Access to abortion in Ireland still depends on doctors’ daily moral courage

By Máireád Enright


Public disquiet over Catholic influence on reproductive healthcare is at the heart of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) dispute. On one side, Ministers, hospital consultants and St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) maintain that religious medical ethics and institutional ethos can be constrained by company law.  On the other, feminists insist that relationships between religious influence and medical care are dangerous and complex. Read more…

State ‘withholding redress’ from school abuse survivors seven years after court ruling

By Colm Keena


Ireland continues to withhold redress from alleged victims of sexual abuse in schools seven years after the European Court of Human Rights judgment won by campaigner Louise O’Keeffe, the Council of Europe has been told. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has asked the European rights organisation to transfer the O’Keeffe case to an “enhanced supervision” process, which would see Ireland more closely monitored on its implementation of the 2014 ruling. Read more…


Complaints upheld against RTÉ God sketch

By Ben Haugh


RTÉ would not mock the Muslim or Jewish faiths in the way it made fun of Catholicism during a satirical sketch that depicted God as a rapist, complainants told the broadcasting watchdog. The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has upheld eight complaints against the state broadcaster over the sketch on its New Year’s Eve countdown programme. A further two were partially upheld. Read more…




Free Mubarak Bala

By The Nation Journalist


Mubarak Bala is still in unlawful detention more than a year after the police arrested him without any formal charge, and more than six months after the High Court in Abuja ruled that his detention violated his rights to personal freedom, fair hearing, freedom of thought and expression. He was arrested in April 2020, and the court made the ruling in December 2020Read more…

Mila trial: Eleven convicted of online hate towards French teenage girl who criticised Islam

By  Euronews with AFP


A French court has convicted eleven people of threatening a teenager who criticised Islam on social media. In the first verdict of its kind, the defendants were given suspended prison sentences and fines for online harassment. Read more…

There Are Growing Calls to Finally Tax the Catholic Church

By Anya Zoledziowski


A mayor in Canada wants to tax the Catholic Church as a result of its role in Canada’s assimilative residential school system—a role currently in the spotlight as more unmarked gravesites at former Catholic-run residential schools are confirmed across the country. Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell’s plan seeks to remove a land tax exemption that churches enjoy. Read more…

Sex abuse data from Poland’s Catholic Church is decades too late

By Victor Sande-Aneiros


Last Monday, Poland’s Catholic Church released new figures of the number of complaints it has received alleging sexual abuse at the hands of its clergy. In total, 368 complaints were made to the Church between 2018 and 2020 relating to alleged abuse by more than 290 priests and other religious figures. The cases stretch as far back as 1958 and 173 of them concern children under the age of 15, which is the age of consent in Poland. Read more…

Naz Shah’s argument on blasphemy should be rejected

By Chris Sloggett


A speech in parliament by Labour MP Naz Shah has set tongues wagging on social media this week. Addressing the current police and crime bill, Shah highlighted the government’s argument that courts should be able to recognise the “emotional harm” caused by damage to statues and memorials. Read more…

Schools must be supported against religious bullies

By Alastair Lichten


In a recent speech at the annual Festival of Education conference Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted, touched on issues with activism in schools. While acknowledging the many positive contributions of activism to education, she criticised “the militant kind” which leads to “confrontational approaches both outside and inside schools. Read more…

Humanists UK at UN calls for repeal of Mauritania’s blasphemy and apostasy laws

By Humanists UK

*|YOUTUBE: [$vid=V3zXbX-1Ruc]|*

Today, Humanists UK called on Mauritania to repeal its blasphemy and apostasy laws at the UN Human Rights Council. Humanists UK’s Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright made the video intervention during a debate on the Universal Periodic Review of Mauritania. In her comments, she said:  Read more…

FFRF hails survey showing “Nones” are here to stay

By The Freedom From Religion Foundation


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is celebrating findings released today that show a shrinking white Christian majority and a stable percentage of religiously unaffiliated Americans. The Public Religion Research Institute’s “2020 Census of American Religion” documents that white Christians, previously a supermajority, have declined by nearly a third in the last few decades, from 65 percent in 1996 to a low of 43 percent in 2017. Today, white Christians comprise 44 percent of the population. 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=seOG4EwGNrE]|*

Freethought Radio – Apostate Report – Muhammad Syed
The National Secular Society – Religion and LGBT rights: fifty years of change
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Why Are Atheists So Widely Disliked?

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