Secular Sunday #562 – The United Nations and the rights of the child

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Editorial

The United Nations and the rights of the child

 

Atheist Ireland was at the United Nations in Geneva this week lobbying for the rights of children in Irish schools that discriminate on the ground of religion. We also represented the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, with whom we made a joint submission to the UN Children’s Rights Committee.We want every child to be able to access a local publicly funded school without religious discrimination or being threatened with refusal of access if they don’t uphold the schools ethos, and every school to comply with Section 62(7)(n) of the Education (Admissions to schools) Act.

We want the State to establish secular or non-denominational schools at primary and second level, and not merely multi-denominational schools. It should also legally and clearly define the terms denominational, multi-denominational, interdenominational, and non-denominational.

Every school should respect and vindicate the positive rights of minorities to freedom of conscience and belief; allow children to not attend religious instruction and provide them with supervision or an alternative curriculum subject; and provide a neutral studying environment outside the confines of religious instruction classes.

You can help us to campaign on this and other secular issues 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 gaeilge@atheist.ie.

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 gaeilge@atheist.ie.

Atheist Ireland News

 

Atheist Ireland lobbying at the United Nations for the rights of children in Irish schools

 

Atheist Ireland was at the United Nations in Geneva this week lobbying for the rights of children in Irish schools that discriminate on the ground of religion. We also represented the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, with whom we made a joint submission to the UN Children’s Rights Committee.

The UN Committee will be questioning the Irish State next January about how it respects the rights of children. At this week’s pre-session, the Committee was discussing possible questions with a range of Irish human rights and civil society groups. We attach below the written submission that we made to the Committee before the discussions.

We want every child to be able to access a local publicly funded school without religious discrimination or being threatened with refusal of access if they don’t uphold the schools ethos, and every school to comply with Section 62(7)(n) of the Education (Admissions to schools) Act.

We want the State to establish secular or non-denominational schools at primary and second level, and not merely multi-denominational schools. It should also legally and clearly define the terms denominational, multi-denominational, interdenominational, and non-denominational.

Every school should respect and vindicate the positive rights of minorities to freedom of conscience and belief; allow children to not attend religious instruction and provide them with supervision or an alternative curriculum subject; and provide a neutral studying environment outside the confines of religious instruction classes.

Submission to UN Committee on Children’s Rights from Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, 
and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland

Contents

Part 1 — Overview

1.1 Who we are
1.2 Our recommendations

Part 2 — C. Civil rights and freedoms (arts. 7, 8 and 13–17)

2.1 From the List of Issues
2.2 Response of the State party
2.3 Our comments on the State Response
2.4 The right to not attend religious instruction in schools
2.5 Types of Religion and ethical classes in schools
2.6 What happens to students who do manage to not participate in religion classes
2.7 Religious ethos and academic subjects
2.8 The Framework for the Primary School Curriculum
2.9 What does all of this mean?
2.10 UN Human Rights Committee

Part 3 — G. Basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18 (3), 24, 26, 27 (1)–(3) and 33)

3.1 From the List of Issues
3.2 Response of State Party
3.3 Our comments on the State Response

Part 4 — H. Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28–31)

4.1 From the List of Issues
4.2 Response of State Party
4.3 Our comments on the State Response to paragraph 27(b)
4.4 Our comments on the State Response to paragraph 27(c)

Part 1 — Overview

1.1 Who we are

Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland 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 by remaining neutral between religious and nonreligious philosophical convictions.

As part of our work:

  • We promote the fundamental human rights of freedom of conscience, religion and belief, equality before the law, and freedom from discrimination for all citizens.
  • We promote these human rights within Irish society and 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, and all 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.

As you would expect, our groups can have different policies beyond the scope of this submission. For example, Atheist Ireland believes that state-funded schools with a religious ethos should provide arrangements for children whose parents do not want them to attend religious instruction, while the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland believes that religious schools should not have to make such arrangements if parents have the choice of an alternative school in their area that has a secular ethos.

However, this submission focuses on the areas on which our groups agree, regarding the rights of children, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and the situation on the ground in Ireland. In practice, there are no secular schools in Ireland, so the question of alternatives to religious schools does not arise. What we are collectively trying to achieve in Ireland is 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 schools ethos.

1.2 Our Recommendations

The State should commit to ensuring 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 schools ethos.

The State should ensure that schools and patron bodies comply with Section 62(7)(n) of the Education (Admissions to schools) Act 2018 by actually writing the details of the arrangements into their admission policies, and not by saying parents have to meet with the school principal.

The State should commit to establishing secular or non-denominational schools at primary and second level, and not merely multi-denominational schools.

The State should legally and clearly define the terms denominational, multi-denominational, interdenominational, and non-denominational, as per the Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission Report ‘Religion & Education; A human Rights Perspective’.

The State should provide statutory guidelines to ensure that publicly funded schools:

  • Respect and vindicate the positive rights of minorities to freedom of conscience and respect for their religious or nonreligious philosophical convictions.
  • Respect and 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.

The State should provide a neutral studying environment, outside the confines of religious instruction classes that students can choose to not attend. Read more…

 


 

Calling concerned teachers

If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at teachers@atheist.ie

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  $37,675 to 1316 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.

Notme.ie

Atheist Ireland’s ‘notme.ie‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1949 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 secularsunday@atheist.ie.


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

 

National

 

Reports highlights unequal access to inclusive education for urban teens

 

By Emma O Kelly

 

On schoolday mornings, it’s an early start indeed for Rosie – something she is not used to. Her primary school was just a short walk away but now that she is in first year, the 13-year-old is out the door with her older sister by 7.15am. Read more…

Clifford Lee calls for changes to School Transport Scheme to eliminate discrimination on the school bus

 

By Ken Phelan

Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee has called for the School Transport Scheme review to include the criteria of ethos and religious denomination. Read online…

Education and a true republic – Letter to the Irish Times

 

By Rob Sadlier

Sir, – I very much agree with Fintan O’Toole (“Monarchy is a bad habit. Up the Republic”, Opinion & Analysis, September 20th), and we should count ourselves very fortunate to live in Ireland. However, there is much work to be done if we want to realise anything like a true republic here, Read more…

International

 

Protect free speech around religion, NSS urges UN

 

By The National Secular Society

 

The National Secular Society has told the United Nations that efforts to tackle intolerance based on religion or belief must ensure free speech is protected.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is inviting contributions to a report on combatting intolerance, discrimination and violence against people based on religion or belief. Read more….

 

Orthodox Church leader says Russian soldiers dying in Ukraine will be cleansed of sin

 

By Reuters

 

Sept 26 (Reuters) – The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has said that Russian soldiers who die in the war against Ukraine will be cleansed of all their sins, days after President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s first mobilisation since World War Two. Read more…

 

Atheist petition could bring thought police

 

By  Star Editor

 

A case has been filed in  court seeking to make atheism illegal in Kenya. The court has been asked to declare as unconstitutional the Atheists in Kenya Society. The argument for the ban is flimsy: the Preamble to the 2010 Constitution starts by acknowledging ‘the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation”. Therefore atheists who deny God are denying the constitution.. Read online…

 

Opinion — I don’t want your god in charge of my health care

 

By Kate Cohen

 

Let’s say a patient is considering a tubal ligation after a planned Caesarean section because she doesn’t want to get pregnant again. Here are some factors that pertain to that decision: her vision of her reproductive future, her doctor’s advice, state regulations, the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the latest scientific research. 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 secularsunday@atheist.ie
 

Podcasts, Videos and Interviews

Ireland

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.

International

 

The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Christian Homework in a Bathtub
Freethought Radio – Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime
Humanists UK Podcast  – What I Believe – Christer Sturmark

Media Watch

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

Join

Please consider joining Atheist Ireland and support our continued work

 

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Secular Sunday

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