Secular Sunday #555 – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

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The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child


Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, are making a submission this week to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee is questioning Ireland about its human rights record under this treaty.Our three groups work together in a campaign for secularism and human rights. Despite our different world views, we agree that each person should be treated with respect, our right to hold our beliefs should be treated with respect, and States should treat us all equally before the law.

We want the State to establish secular schools and to ensure that every child has the right to access a local publicly funded school, without religious discrimination or being threatened with refusal of access if they don’t uphold the school’s ethos.

Every school should respect the positive rights of minorities to freedom of conscience and respect for their religious or nonreligious philosophical convictions, and should vindicate the right of children who exercise their constitutional right to not attend religious instruction, and provide such children with supervision or an alternative curriculum subject.

You can help us to continue this and other secular 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

Here is our previous submission on the rights of the child from 2 years ago

The Rights of the Child in Irish schools


The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child will soon be questioning Ireland again. Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland have sent this joint submission to the UN Committee.
Summary of Questions
Cluster 3. General Principles
Article 2 — Non-discrimination
Article 12 — Respect for the views of the child
Cluster 4. Civil Rights and Freedoms
Article 14 — Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Article 37A — Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment
Cluster 6. Basic Health and Welfare
Article 24 — Relationship and Sexuality Education
Cluster 7. Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities
Article 28 — Right to Education
Article 29 — Aims of Education
1. Types of Schools
2. Access to Education
3. Influence of Religious Ethos on Minorities
Irish atheists, Evangelicals and Ahmadiyya Muslims are united in a campaign for Secularism and Human Rights. While we have different world views, and different emphases in policies, we all agree that each person should be treated with respect, our right to hold our beliefs should be treated with respect, States should treat us all equally before the law by remaining neutral between religious and non-religious beliefs.
Parts of our campaign are:

  • We will promote the fundamental human rights of freedom of conscience, religion and belief, equality before the law, and freedom from discrimination for all.
  • We will promote these human rights within Irish society and Irish political institutions, and at the United Nations and other international human rights regulatory bodies.

In support of these aims we are making this Submission to outline the failure of Ireland to protect and respect the human rights of atheists and secularists, Ahmadiyya Muslim and Evangelical Christians minorities in the Irish education system. Our children are discriminated against on the grounds of religion and their rights under the Convention are not protected.
Summary of Questions
Cluster 3. General Principles
Article 2 — Non-discrimination
Will the State part commit to amend Article 42.1 so that it applies to all parents and not just those based on marriage?
Article 12 — Respect for the views of the child
Will the State party amend Section 30-2(e) of the Education Act 1998 to ensure that the views of children are taken into consideration, taking account of their evolving capacities as they grow into adolescence?
Cluster 4. Civil Rights and Freedoms
Article 14 — Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
(a) Why are there no guidelines for schools on how they should accommodate children who exercise their Constitutional Right to not attend any type of religious teaching on the grounds of conscience?
(b) Why are students who do not attend religious teaching, in accordance with their right, not offered another subject and will the State party give a commitment to ensure that students who do not attend religious teaching are offered another curriculum subject?
Article 37A — Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(a) Ask the state again the same question as was asked during the last session, about measures taken to ensure accountability for sexual abuse committed by religious leaders and/or organisations and their associated institutions, including with regards to the provision of compensation for such cases?
(b) Will the State give an update on the Report of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters), the completion of which has again been delayed, with a new predicted completion date of 30 October, just after this session?
Cluster 6. Basic Health and Welfare
Article 24 — Relationship and Sexuality Education
Will the state party amend Section 15-2 (b) of the Education Act 1998 to ensure that all students have access to objective Relationship and Sexuality Education at primary level and Social, Personal and Health Education at second level?
This should be done consistently with the right under Article 42.1 of the Constitution and Section 30-2 (e) of the Education Act 1998 of a student to not attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent or an over-18 student. Read more…

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  $37,275 to 1300 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 1935 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 4,112 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

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




Irish Catholic Church set to go back to the future by embracing laity and women


By Patsy McGarry


In June 2018, the somewhat less than shy and retiring Josepha Madigan — then minister for culture — stepped into the breach at a Saturday evening Mass in the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin, when the designated priest did not arrive. Read more…

Catholic Church was a ‘net winner’ from Ireland’s Great Famine, historian says


By Barry Roche

The Catholic Church was a “net winner” from the Great Famine as the urban Catholics who survived it were more likely to be regular Mass-goers than the largely rural poor who died, enabling the church to increase its influence on the population at large, a prominent academic has claimed.Read more…

Irish DPC announces decision on church records of former members


By Über Felix Neumann

Two years ago, the Irish Data Protection Commission announced a inquiry into the extent to which churches can process the data of former members against their will. The issue is particularly sensitive in Ireland due to the lack of a way to formally record disaffiliation. Opposition to this is being organised by »Atheist Ireland«, among others Read more…




Don’t let religion undermine mental health care, NSS warns UN


By The National Secular Society


The National Secular Society has advised the United Nations to be cautious about mixing religion with mental health care. The NSS warned of the potential dangers of placing too much emphasis on religion in a submission on draft guidance on mental health from the UN Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Read online…

Child ‘kicked out’ of class in Louisiana because parents are same-sex couple


By Gloria Oladipo

A five-year-old was allegedly forced out of her kindergarten class at a religious school in Louisiana in the US because her parents are a same-sex couple. Emily and Jennie Parker said they were informed by school officials at the Bible Baptist Academy in DeQuincy during a meeting with the school’s director and a pastor that their same-sex relationship did not follow the teachings of the school and that they would need to find a new school for their daughter, Zoey. Read more…

The Supreme Court Wants to End the Separation of Church and State


By Kimberly Wehle

Many legal scholars in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical decision to reverse Roe v. Wade have focused on the dangerous implications of the court’s centuries-old worldview on protections for things such as same-sex marriage and contraception. This concern is real, but there is another issue with equally grave constitutional consequences, one that portends the emergence of a foundational alteration of American government itself. Read more…

New rules for faith groups, FFRF and others urge Biden

By Freedom From Religion Foundation

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is part of a coalition that is urging the Biden administration to implement new regulations for funding of faith groups. The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination was formed in the 1990s to monitor legislative and regulatory changes affecting government partnerships with religious and other nonprofit social service providers, and, in particular, to oppose government-funded religious discrimination. 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 – Threat to Democracy
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – The Illegal, Christian “Hamilton” Saga
Humanists UK Podcast  – What I Believe – Angela Barnes

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








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