Secular Sunday #503 – The Catholic church versus democracy

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The Catholic church versus democracy


Niall Stokes has written a powerful article in Hot Press about why the Catholic Church should have nothing to do with the new national maternity hospital, given its abuse of children, its repeated coverups, and its evangelising mission.

He highlights the duplicity and evasion of the Jesuits in covering up repeated sexual abuse of children by one of their priests, in three different schools in three different counties. This priest ended up as a part-time chaplain in Saint Vincent’s Hospital.

This reflects the wider ethos of the Catholic church in Ireland. They believe that they are above the law of the State, and they will prioritise their own evangelising mission, including in any influence that they are allowed to have in the new national maternity hospital.

Atheist Ireland has always argued that the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital. It should not cede control over this essential public service to any private body, never mind to a charity associated with the Catholic church.

Please consider joining Atheist Ireland if you are not already a member. We are a voluntary group with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our lobbying on this and other issues including secular education and religious oaths for high office. You can join here.

– 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


The State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital

In a democratic republic, the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital. It should not cede control over this essential public service to any private body, never mind to a charity associated with the Catholic church, which has an appalling record of human rights abuses and an ethos that opposes reproductive rights for women.
Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular healthcare system based on compassion, human rights and the medical needs of patients. No religious values should be imposed on patients who do not share those religious beliefs. The State should remove, not reinforce, the traditional privileges that religious bodies have in our healthcare provision.
Atheist Ireland also lobbies politicians of all parties for a secular education system. They all assure us that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church the influence that it has over our education system. So why are they actively doing the same thing while spending €800 million on our national maternity hospital?
If the government accepts a 99-year lease on the land that the hospital is built on, they would be knowingly passing this problem down to future generations. The politicians of the next century could then assure their constituents that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church this influence over the maternity hospital.
Scandalously, the government is spending €800 million of public money on a project that requires the Sisters of Charity to obtain permission from the Vatican to agree to it. The Vatican is the headquarters of a global religion that poses as a quasi-State when it suits its purposes. Its primary aim is not to provide healthcare, but to evangelise people into Catholicism.
The Vatican has Guidelines for the Administration of Assets in Institutes of Consecrated Life which state that:

“The field of economics is a means of missionary activity for the church… [These assets] are ecclesiastical assets… Through financial transactions, vital choices are made which should reflect the evangelical witness… The ultimate responsibility for administrative, economic, or financial decisions can never be handed over to members of the laity or to those of other Institutes.”

The Vatican has a Charter for Healthcare Workers, which states that:

“Healthcare workers should be given a solid ethico-religious formation, which promotes in them an appreciation of human and Christian values and refines their moral conscience. There is need to develop in them an authentic faith and a true sense of morality, in a sincere search for a religious relationship with God, in whom all ideals of goodness and truth are based.”

Recent referendums on marriage equality, abortion, and blasphemy, have shown a consistent majority in favour of secular government. Our politicians should heed this message, and the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital.

What we do

Here is a list of Atheist Ireland’s National and International Submissions over the last few years.
This list includes letters/submissions to various government departments. It also includes our Joint submissions with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland.

International submissions




National submissions




The National Maternity Hosptial

The Supreme Court has already found that religious denominations that control medical institutions indirectly are governed by Article 44.2.5 of the Constitution which means they can own, acquire and administer property, movable and immoveable for religious or charitable purposes.

This means that the proposed National Maternity Hospital built on land owned by the Sisters of Charity will come under Article 44.2.5 of the Constitution and according to the Constitution every religious denomination has the right to manage its own affairs.

Know your rights

The main aim of curriculum Religious Education is to develop values in students to enable them to see the relevance of religion to their lives. This is indoctrination and breaches the Constitutional rights of non religious families.

The Supreme Court has said that the Constitutional right to not attend religious instruction in schools (Article 44.2.4) must be read in context of the Constitutional right of parents in relation to the religious education of their children (Article 42.1)

It is not up to the Minister for Education or the Catholic Bishops to decide for parents what is or is not against their conscience. Claiming that curriculum Religious Education is not Religious Instruction and therefore Article 44.2.4 is not engaged clearly breaches the Constitutional right of parents and their children.

The Irish State teaches children to respect beliefs and the Codes of Conduct in relation to those beliefs. This is part of the ethos of Community National Schools at Primary Level. Many beliefs undermine the dignity of the human person and many parents challenge and campaign against Catholic Codes of Conduct that deny women their reproductive rights. Community National Schools indoctrinate, they provide no means for parents to ensure their children do not attend this indoctrination as they claim this teaching is for students from all backgrounds.

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  $33,250 to 1155 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 1870 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 4,081 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

Places  And Faces

Michael and Jane returned today to the traditional pre-lockdown Atheist Ireland office 🙂


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




Sex Abuse In Belvedere College And How It Relates To The National Maternity Hospital

By Niall Stokes


New revelations have recently emerged about the extent of crimes committed by the paedophile priest,  Fr. Joseph  Marmion, in Belvedere College, Dublin – and the way in which they were  covered up by the school and the Jesuit order. The worst of it is that the Jesuits are still in the business of self-justification. Read more…

Heads of state shouldn’t have to swear religious oaths

By Chris Sloggett


A challenge to Ireland’s religious presidential oath should be supported – and prompt questions across the Irish Sea, says Chris Sloggett. Over the last few years Ireland has made several steps in a secularist direction. Read more…


The DUP and Young Earth creationism

By Stuart Mathieson


Edwin Poots’s recent stint as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party will no doubt be remembered mostly for its brevity, but it also generated a significant amount of debate about his religious and scientific views. Of particular interest was that the leader of the North’s largest political party, and potential first minister, was an outspoken Young Earth creationist. Read more…

GP: My patients do not need to see your placards with your value judgements

By Dr Brian Kennedy


THE WOMEN COME with everything. Contraception needs, infertility, threatened miscarriage, recurrent pregnancy loss. Pregnancy can be a cherished planned life event or an unwanted crisis. Women can now access abortion care in my practice. They are not “othered”. When under 12 weeks gestation, they are not relegated to silence and shame and online pills and hurried hushed decisions made around Ryanair flight schedules to Manchester, Liverpool, Amsterdam. Read more…

Locked away: Thousands of unwanted children failed by foundling hospitals

By Sean O’Riordan


Between 1728–1828, the foundling hospital served the purpose of removing unwanted infants from the view of Irish society. With a stated aim ‘to make good Protestants of the foundling children’, conditions were bleak, often resulting in illness and death, writes Sean O’Riordan. Read more…



‘No Religion’ debate rages on as Australian log on to census

By Out in Perth admin


As millions of Australians log on to complete the 2021 census debate over one of the questions has amped up. What is your religion? Every Australian census has asked questions about what our religious beliefs are, but over the years the way the question has been presented has been updated to reflect our changing community make up. Read more…

Misusing donor money: Financial abuse one more reason to quit the Catholic Church

By Ryan Jayne from Freedom From Religion Foundation


Rampant child sex abuse and cover-up. The crusades. The Inquisitions. Convincing children they will go to hell or purgatory if they don’t follow instructions. Teaching that condoms are worse than AIDS. Castrating boys for choir singing. The Index of Forbidden Books. The pope’s ridiculous hat. The Catholic Church has a rich history (literally — the Vatican has hoarded vast wealth since its inception) of giving its adherents reasons to quit. For those hanging on, the past few days have delivered yet another. Read more…

Tusk calls for removing crosses from Polish parliament and schools

By Daniel Tilles


Donald Tusk, the leader of Poland’s largest opposition party, has called for Christian crosses to be removed from public places such as schools, where they are commonly displayed, and parliament, where one has hung in the main chamber since the 1990s. His remarks were immediately condemned by a minister from the national-conservative government, who accused Tusk of promoting “the dictatorship of leftism and atheism like in the West”. Read more…

Pakistani and other blasphemy laws must go

By Freedom From Religion Foundation


While the Freedom From Religion Foundation is relieved that blasphemy charges were dropped this week against an eight-year-old Pakistani Hindu boy, the case shows why blasphemy laws must go. The boy, from Bhong village in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, was accused of urinating on a carpet in a religious library in a madrassa. He and his family are in hiding and under protective police custody, fearing reprisals. Already, a Hindu temple was attacked by a Muslim mob following his release. Read online…


Ex-Muslims in India find solidarity online as they face social and familial rejection

By Bhavya Dore


MUMBAI, India (RNS) — Arif Hussain Theruvath used to fast during Ramadan, studied in a madrassa in the southern state of Kerala, followed fundamentalist Islamic preachers online and prayed five times a day. But over time, he grew disillusioned with Islam, and he officially came out online as an “ex-Muslim” in 2019. Read more…

Devil in the detail as satanists’ fight with Education Dept hits Supreme Court

By Toby Crockford


A group of self-described satanists enlisted the Devil himself as a “political tool” and held a Black Mass in their fight against the might of Queensland’s Education Department, which reached the Supreme Court on Thursday. Read more…

Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

By Haroon Janjua


An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country. The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Read more…

An up date on this from Thursday was that the charges were dropped against the child  Read more…

Science vs. religion as Greek priests lead the anti-vax movement

By Nektaria Stamouli


ATHENS — Anti-vaxxers and churchgoers are out in force on a warm July Sunday morning in central Athens — and, for the most part, they are the same people. For the Greek authorities, one of the major sources of opposition to lockdowns, mask-wearing, social distancing and vaccination is influential Greek clerics and the power they wield from the pulpit. 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.



Freethought Radio – Imam No More
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Stop Asking for Religious Exemptions to Mask Mandates

Media Watch

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




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