Secular Sunday #517 – The One Oath For All Campaign

This week’s Secular Sunday. To avoid missing out, sign up here to receive Secular Sunday by email



The One Oath For All Campaign


This week Roisin Shortall TD and asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule against the religious oaths in our Constitution for President and members of the Council of State, which includes the Taoiseach and Tanaiste.

The Court refused to hear the case on the grounds that Roisin and her colleagues could not show that they personally were likely to be elected President of Ireland, or invited onto the Council of State, and that they personally had therefore not been victimised.

Atheist Ireland continues to campaign on this as an important political issue. We run a One Oath for All Campaign. We want holders of these public offices to make a declaration to uphold the Constitution, with no reference to their personal religious or nonreligious beliefs.

When we raised this issue with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2014, the Human Rights Committee told Ireland to take concrete steps to amend these Articles in our constitution. Roisin Shortall has said she will bring a Bill for a referendum on this issue early next year.

If you would like to help Atheist Ireland campaign on this and other secular issues, please join Atheist Ireland as a member. We are a voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work.  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 political campaign continues to remove the religious oaths in the Irish constitution


The religious oaths in the Irish Constitution for President and members of the Council of State still contravene human rights law, and today’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights has not found otherwise.
Indeed, the European Court has previously found in the cases of Dimitras and Others v. Greece and Grzelak v Poland, that being forced to reveal your beliefs in order to avoid taking a religious oath, or being compelled to assume a stance from which it may be inferred whether or not you you have religious beliefs, is contrary to the human right of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
All that the European Court has ruled is that the five specific people who took the legal challenge could not show that they personally were likely to be elected President of Ireland, or invited onto the Council of State, and that they personally had therefore not been victimised.
This means that a legal challenge against the oaths would probably require someone to be elected as President or be invited onto the Council of State, then refuse to swear the religious oath and takes a legal case to the European Court.
Atheist Ireland continues to campaign on this as an important political issue. We run a One Oath for All Campaign. We want holders of public office to make a declaration to uphold the Constitution, with no reference to their personal religious or nonreligious beliefs.
This remains an important political campaign, as the Taoiseach and Tanaiste have to swear a religious oath, as they are member of the Council of State. When Eamon Gilmore was Tanaiste his legal advice was that he had to swear the oath in order to remain Tanaiste.
It is disgraceful that the Irish Government argued at the European Court that these religious oaths are “necessary in a democratic society.” Is this how the Government of a Republic politically treats citizens who are conscientious atheists or secularists?
Both the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights have made clear that the State must respect the right to freedom of conscience and religious belief, in law and in practice, on a non-discriminatory basis.
Atheist Ireland raised this issue with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2014, and the Human Rights Committee concluded that:

“The State Party should take concrete steps to amend articles 12, 31 and 34 of the Constitution that require religious oaths to take up senior public office positions, taking into account the Committee’s general comment No. 22 (1993) concerning the right not to be compelled to reveal one’s thoughts or adherence to a religion or belief in public.”

As recently as last October, the UN Human Rights Committee told Ireland:

“Please report on the measures taken to ensure that the right to freedom of conscience and religious belief is fully respected, in law and in practice, on a non-discriminatory basis… Please indicate whether there have been any changes to the constitutional provisions requiring persons who take up certain senior public positions to take religious oaths.”

The European Court of Human Rights has consistently found that the right to freedom of religion and belief is one of the foundations of a democratic society. The Court has also held that the right to manifest your religion or belief has a negative aspect.
This means that the State cannot oblige you to disclose your religion or beliefs. Nor can it oblige you to act in such a way that it is possible to conclude that you hold, or do not hold, religious beliefs. That is intervening in the sphere of your freedom of conscience.
We have removed the law against blasphemy. That is one step towards a secular State that respects equally everybody’s right to freedom of conscience. Removing these anachronistic religious oaths from our Constitution is the next step. 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  $34,750 to 1205 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 1883 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 4,089 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



On Saturday 27th of November at 2pm Atheist Ireland will have their 13th Annual General Meeting. This meeting is online via Zoom. Members please check your inbox and spam folder for a link to register. Non members who wish to join please do so before the weekend if you want to attend. If you are a member and did not recieve an email contact

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




Róisín Shortall to seek referendum to end presidential oath to ‘almighty God’

By Arthur Beesley


Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall is to table a Bill seeking a referendum to remove the presidential oath to “almighty God” from the Constitution after European human rights judges dismissed her challenge to the oath. Read online…

Taking God out of oath

By Seamus McKenna


Sir, – The European Court of Human Rights judgment (“Shortall to table Bill on taking God out of oath”, November 19th) was made on very narrow legal grounds. It does not in the slightest reflect the reality in modern Ireland, just as with the fact that one branch of one particular religion has control of over 90 per cent of our State-funded primary schools, which merely tolerate the children of those who do not subscribe to it. Read online…




The Christian Maternity Ranch in Texas is a Disaster in the Making

By Hemant Mehta


In Texas, where legal abortion has all but evaporated due to decisions by the Supreme Court and a state government dominated by conservative Christians, some white evangelicals are naturally trying to capitalize on the opportunity.The Washington Post‘s Stephanie McCrummen has a lengthy story about one such “maternity ranch” — an appropriate word since the Christians are treating women like cattle — designed to house new mothers who might have chosen abortion if they had the option. Read more…

How did an non-religious nation elect a religious leader?

By Daniel Blewitt


How does one of the most secular nations on earth vote for and elect a leader who wears his faith so brazenly upon his person? We rank 9th, with 69% of Australians marking themselves as either “not a religious person” or “atheist”, according to the worldwide Gallup poll of 2017 on irreligiosity. Read more…

In Catholic Italy, ‘de-baptism’ is gaining popularity

By Sara Badilini


Like most of his fellow Italians, Mattia Nanetti, 25, from the northern city of Bologna, grew up with the teachings and sacraments of the Catholic Church in parochial school. Even his scouting group was Catholic. But in September 2019 he decided the time had come to leave the church behind. He filled out a form that he had found online, accompanying it with a long letter explaining his reasons, and sent everything to the parish in his hometown. Read more…

The church has always been in the business of shame – now it wants a law to protect its nastiness

By David Marr


This religious discrimination bill is designed to let the churches be nasty: nasty to children, to employees of the faiths and nasty in the pulpit. Shame is the business of these churches. Shame and forgiveness. But first there has to be shame. Read more…

Humanists ‘discriminated against in 144 countries’ – 2021 Freedom of Thought Report

By Humanists UK


Humanists are discriminated against in 144 countries across the globe. 83 countries have criminal punishments for blasphemy or apostasy, including 13 where it remains a capital offence. In 12 countries, government figures or state agencies openly marginalise, harass, or incite hatred or violence against the non-religious. These are the top-line findings of the tenth annual Freedom of Thought Report by Humanists International, which is being launched today. 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 – “Blacktino” Atheist
The National Secular Society Podcast –
Books for Secularists
Humanists UK – What I believe – Shaparak Khorsandi
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – The Magdalene Laundries of Texas

Media Watch

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




Please consider joining Atheist Ireland and support our continued work








Secular Sunday