Secular Sunday #535 – One week to Census 2022

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One week to Census 2022


Next Sunday, people around Ireland will fill in their census forms for 2022. We ask everyone to pay attention to the new religion question, which now reads: ‘What is your religion, if any?’

Note that the words ‘if any’ have been added, to make clear that you are not expected to automatically have a religion. Also, the first check-box is now ‘No Religion’, which comes before the list of the five most popular religions from the last census.

Note also that the CSO formally advises that the question is about what you believe ‘at the time of the census’, so you shouldn’t just mark the religion you were brought up in. You won’t write in your childhood address, so don’t mark your childhood religion.

These small improvements came after lobbying by Atheist Ireland during a consultation process. We argued that the old question, ’What is your religion’, assumed that everyone had a religion, and resulted in people writing down a religion even if they were not religious.

As a further prejudice, the listed options were ordered in the sequence of the most frequently given responses from the previous census. However, although ‘No religion’ was the second most frequent answer in the second-last census, it did not appear in second place in the last census.

This year we can continue to record the rise of the nonreligious in Ireland, from just a thousand in 1961 to nearly half a million in 2016. What will it be this year? Another rise will put pressure on the State to deliver public services without giving privilege to the Roman Catholic Church.

As always, you can help us to continue our work by joining Atheist Ireland as a member, or by asking anybody who you think may be interested in joining us to do so. We are an entirely voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. You can join Atheist Ireland 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


Are atheists fully human yet?


By Michael Nugent


23 March is international Atheist Day. By coincidence, on this day ten years ago, Jane Donnelly and I were at a conference in Ireland at which two Catholic theologians said that atheists are not fully human.
  • Prof Gavin D’Costa, a Catholic theologian from the University of Bristol, said religious revelation tells us what being fully human is, and atheists are not fully formed.
  • Dr Rik Van Nieuwenhove used an analogy of atheists seeing a photograph in two dimensions and Catholics seeing the same photograph in three dimensions.
This nonsense flows from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which reads: “Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God.”
Most of the time they phrase it subtly, by saying that you require religious faith to be fully human, and sometimes they let the mask slip and explicitly say we are not fully human. For example, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor told BBC Radio 4 that atheists are not fully human because we leave out of our philosophy the search for what he calls God.
Progress in Ireland since 2012
Ironically, the conference Jane and I attended ten years ago was titled “Towards Mutual Ground: Religious Pluralism in Educational Practice in Irish Schools”. It was organised by the Mater Dei Irish Centre for Religious Education, the PDST, and hosts Mary Immaculate College.
Since then, Atheist Ireland has evolved into an established advocacy group. We raise secular issues within Ireland and at the United Nations and other human rights oversight bodies. We have led a successful campaign to remove the Irish blasphemy law.
Mary Immaculate College now takes a more inclusive position on learning about atheism. Jane and I have twice spoken about atheism and secularism to teacher training students at the college, and we are due to speak at a related event next month.
However, the Irish education system still treats atheists as second-class citizens, the state plans to give control of our new National Maternity Hospital to a Catholic religious order, and the constitution still requires the President, judges, and Taoiseach to swear a religious oath in order to take office.
Persecution in other countries
While we continue to fight this discrimination, atheists in other parts of the world face persecution. Humanists International annual Freedom of Thought Report says that:
  • At least 16 countries punish apostasy, 11 with death (Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Maldives, Qatar, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen), and 5 with prison (Bahrain, Comoros, Gambia, Kuwait, and Oman).
  • At least 83 countries punish blasphemy, 6 with death (Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Mauritania), 56 with a prison sentence, and 21 with a fine.
We must work together as atheists around the world to challenge these abuses of human rights. We should also work on this issue with members of minority religious faiths who are also persecuted in many countries.
For example, Atheist Ireland attended the United Nations Human Rights Committee when it was questioning Pakistan. We went with the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, both of whose members are also persecuted in Pakistan.
Are atheists fully human yet?
Obviously we are, and we always have been. But we are not always treated as such. We are still discriminated against in Western countries and persecuted in many other countries.
But the world is becoming more secular, according to the World Values Survey, a long-term project run by a team of interdisciplinary social scientists.
As people move away from survival values and towards self-expression values, societies move away from traditional religious values and towards secular rational values. The world is moving in this direction, at different speeds in different regions.
Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign for an ethical, secular, world where States treat everybody equally regardless of our religious or nonreligious beliefs. Read online…


For International #AtheistDay 23 March, here is a series of short posts about whether gods exist and why the question is an important one.


Do Gods Exist?


By Michael Nugent


Know your rights

The Supreme Court has upheld the rights of parents in relation to the religious & moral formation of their children. The very purpose of Art 42.4 is to protect the rights of parents. Claiming that RE is suitable for all undermines a foundational pillar of the constitution because that is a decision for parents not the church or the state.

In the recent Burke case the Supreme Court said the purpose of Art 42.4 is to protect the authority of the family in relation to the religious & moral formation of their children. This is a condition of state funding.

The Department of Education has undermined a foundational pillar of the constitution by claiming that syllabus Religious Education is suitable for all. They have no constitutional authority to claim such a thing because under the constitution it is parents that have a right to decide on the basis of their conscience what is or is not suitable religious and moral education and formation for their children.

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

Be Good without Gods

Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of  $35,975 to 1252 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 1914 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 4,108 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


International #AtheistDay.

The 23rd March was International #AtheistDay.


23 March was International #AtheistDay. Join Atheist Ireland to help end religious oaths for Judges, President, and Taoiseach.

23 March was International #AtheistDay. Join Atheist Ireland to protect teachers from religious discrimination.

23 March was International #AtheistDay. Join Atheist Ireland to promote State schools that teach, don’t preach.

23 March was International #AtheistDay. Join Atheist Ireland to promote secular schools and ethical laws.

The 23 March was International #AtheistDay. If you live near Cork, join Atheist Ireland’s Cork group to promote secular schools and ethical laws.

The 23 March was International #AtheistDay. If you live near Kerry, join Atheist Ireland’s Kerry group to promote secular schools and ethical laws.

The 23 March was International #AtheistDay. Subscribe to Secular Sunday, a free weekly email newsletter from Atheist Ireland about atheist and secular issues.

On the 23 March, International #AtheistDay, support Atheist Freethinkers of Canada

On the 23 March, International #AtheistDay, support Faithless Hijabi


On the 23 March, International #AtheistDay, support the Richard Dawkins Foundation

On the 23 March, International #AtheistDay, support the Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation in Poland


On today 23 March, International #AtheistDay, support the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain


On today 23 March, International #AtheistDay. support the Freedom From Religion Foundation in USA

Countdown to Census 2022


13 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

12 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

11 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

10 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

9 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

8 days to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

1 week to the Census on Sunday 3 April. If you’re not religious, mark ‘No Religion’.

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




National Maternity Hospital: Is Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly Spreading Fake News?


By Stuart Clark


In an open letter to An Taoiseach Micheal Martin, issued by the Our Maternity Hospital Campaign, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is accused of making statements that are “manifestly untrue” in relation to the proposed deal to hand control of the new National Maternity Hospital to the St. Vincent’s Hospital Group. Read more…


NSS calls for better free speech protection in NI hate crime reform


By The National Secular Society


The National Secular Society has warned proposed reforms to Northern Ireland’s hate crime laws could undermine free speech. The Department of Justice (DoJ) is consulting on a new Hate Crime Bill for NI based on recommendations made by Judge Desmond Marrinan in 2020. It includes proposals that would broaden the definition of hate crime, create a new aggravated offence for sectarian hate crimes, and potentially expand ‘hate speech’ laws to cover online content. Read more…

Northern Ireland Assembly passes buffer zone law to protect women accessing abortion services


By Humanists UK


Last night the Abortion Services (Safe Access Zones) Bill passed its final stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly by 55 votes to 29. This is the first time Assembly members have passed pro-choice legislation. The Bill will create safe zones in the immediate vicinity of abortion clinics to prevent harassment and intimidation of women by anti-choice activists. Brought as a Private Member’s Bill by Green MLA Clare Bailey, it now only needs Royal Assent to become law. Read more…



The Netherlands is no longer a religious country, says think-tank


By Dutch News Reporter


The number of people in the Netherlands describing themselves as atheist or agnostic has outstripped those who are religious for the first time, the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP said on Thursday. Various surveys show that around half the population is agnostic or atheist and that is double the number since the first surveys in the 1960s and 1070s, the SCP said. Read online…


Humanists UK New petition: end discriminatory admissions in state schools!


By Humanists UK


Humanists UK has today launched a new petition to the UK Secretary of State for Education. The petition calls on Nadhim Zahawi MP to remove the ability of state schools in England to choose their pupils on the basis of religion. The aim is to end these discriminatory admissions processes once and for all. Read more…

Citipointe Christian College teachers threatened with dismissal for expressing homosexuality


By Ben Smee


Teachers at Brisbane religious school Citipointe Christian College are being asked to sign employment contracts that warn they could be sacked for being openly homosexual.The school says the wording of staff employment conditions is “under review” but one former teacher, who refused to sign the document last month, says he has now effectively lost his job for taking a stand. Read more…

Study: Women of no faith face discrimination — when they are seen at all




A survey of nonreligious people reveals that women are more likely than others to encounter stigma and discrimination in nearly every area of their lives — social media, education, employment, the military and within their families — because of their beliefs. Read more…

An inclusive Britain starts with inclusive schools


By Stephen Evans


Last week the government published its ‘inclusive Britain strategy‘, setting out a range of actions to tackle racial and ethnic disparities and promote fairness. A glaring issue overlooked is that of faith schools. Robust evidence shows that faith-based education builds discrimination into the system and undermines social cohesion by segregating pupils on religious, ethnic, racial and social grounds. 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

IrelandCardinal calls for Vatican reprimand over sexuality remarks

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 – The bible and slavery
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Misplaced Double-Standard

Media Watch

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





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