The World Atheist Convention in Dublin in 2011

It is now a decade since Atheist Ireland hosted two international conferences in Dublin. Both conferences agreed declarations on the principles that we should use to advance secularism.

  • The first in 2011 was the World Atheist Convention. That conference agreed the Dublin Declaration on Secularism and the Place of Religion in Public Life.
  • The second in 2013 was on Empowering Women Through Secularism. That conference agreed the Dublin Declaration on Empowering Women Through Secularism.

Here are the declarations arising from those conferences a decade ago.

Dublin Declaration on Secularism and Religion 2011

1. Personal Freedoms

  • Freedom of conscience, religion and belief are private and unlimited. Freedom to practice religion should be limited only by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of others.
  • All people should be free to participate equally in the democratic process.
  • Freedom of expression should be limited only by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of others. There should be no right in law ‘to not be offended’. All blasphemy laws, whether explicit or implicit, should be repealed and should not be enacted.

2. Secular Democracy

  • The sovereignty of the State is derived from the people and not from any god or gods.
  • The only reference in the constitution to religion should be an assertion that the State is secular.
  • The State should be based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Public policy should be formed by applying reason, and not religious faith, to evidence.
  • Government should be secular. The state should be strictly neutral in matters of religion and its absence, favoring none and discriminating against none.
  • Religions should have no special financial consideration in public life, such as tax-free status for religious activities, or grants to promote religion or run faith schools.
  • Membership of a religion should not be a basis for appointing a person to any state position.
  • The law should neither grant nor refuse any right, privilege, power or immunity, on the basis of faith or religion or the absence of either.

3. Secular Education

  • State education should be secular. Religious education, if it happens, should be limited to education about religion and its absence.
  • Children should be taught about the diversity of religious and nonreligious philosophical beliefs in an objective manner, with no faith formation in school hours.
  • Children should be educated in critical thinking and the distinction between faith and reason as a guide to knowledge. Science should be taught free from religious interference.

4. One Law For All

  • There should be one secular law for all, democratically decided and evenly enforced, with no jurisdiction for religious courts to settle civil matters or family disputes.
  • The law should not criminalise private conduct on the grounds that the doctrine of any religion deems such conduct to be immoral, if that private conduct respects the rights and freedoms of others.
  • Employers or social service providers with religious beliefs should not be allowed to discriminate on any grounds not essential to the job in question.

Dublin Declaration on Empowering Women through Secularism 2013

1. Secular Values in Society

  • The secular values that will empower women are science-based reason, equality and empathy in alliance with the principles of feminism.
  • Priorities in democratic states: secular values will protect and advance already-established freedoms. Cultural and religious beliefs must not be used to deny or limit these freedoms.
  • Priorities in nondemocratic states: where secular values are not recognized or protected by laws, such laws should be established and applied, and address the issues that deny women full participation in society and government.

2. Separation of Religion and State

  • Priorities in democratic states: the Constitution should make explicit mention of the separation of religion and state. The state should not fund religions or beliefs. Also, social services, health care services or education accorded to citizens should respect the law; and all state practices should be neutral.
  • Priorities in nondemocratic states: certain things are fundamental in order to take first steps towards separation of religion and state. Access to education and information should be free and unrestricted. The international community should be vigilant on the application of human rights and take appropriate action where necessary.

3. Human Rights

  • Human rights are universal, and should be applied equally in democratic and nondemocratic states. Women’s rights are human rights, not separate rights for women.
  • Priorities in democratic states: women should have equal sexual, reproductive and economic rights in practice as well as in legislation.
  • Priorities in nondemocratic states: the right to autonomy, self-determination as an individual, and fully equal treatment at all levels of society for men and women. This takes precedence over religious or idealogical dogma.

4. Reproductive Rights

  • Priorities in democratic states: the state should recognize and respect the right to universal and absolute bodily ownership. Reproductive healthcare services should be free, accessible, non-judgmental and objective. Comprehensive evidence-based sex education should be universally available.
  • Priorities in nondemocratic states: human rights conventions should be honored in their entirety, and directives should not be vetoed on religious grounds or otherwise. International assistance should be given to grassroots campaigns involved in the provision and promotion of comprehensive reproductive health services and education.

5. Politics and Campaigning

  • Priorities in democratic states: it is essential to define the concept of morality as not being exclusive to religion, and to clearly promote secular feminist values as being beneficial to all citizens. These values should be communicated to citizens in a concise accessible manner using whatever means are available in order to promote the growth of a wider secular community in the future.
  • Priorities in nondemocratic states: we should amplify the voices of secular feminists fighting back against oppressive regimes throughout the world, and we should promote strategies and tools to overcome technological arrears in nondemocratic countries.
Atheist Ireland

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