By MICHAEL NUGENT on OCTOBER 18, 2013
Atheist Ireland has today made this submission to the Constitutional Convention.
1. Executive Summary
1.1 Atheist Ireland is an advocacy group for atheism, reason and ethical secularism. We are the only advocacy group in Ireland that promotes the political cause of separation of church and state as a primary aim. We are participants in the dialogue process between the Government and religious and philosophical bodies. We participate in events organised by international bodies such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the OSCE. We work with other advocacy groups who are seeking to bring about an ethical society.
1.2 One of the most striking features of the Irish Constitution is its overt theistic, religious, Christian and Roman Catholic character. This is a result of the political personnel and culture of the Ireland of the 1930s, and it is entirely inappropriate for the Ireland of the 21st century. If the Convention is to make serious substantive proposals for change, it must address this issue and the problems that it has caused over the decades. We ask you to add secularisation and separation of church and state as one of the additional items on your agenda.
1.3 Atheist Ireland wants a secular Irish Constitution, which respects equally the right of every citizen to our religious or nonreligious philosophical beliefs, with the State remaining neutral on these beliefs. Religious States promote religion, atheist States promote atheism, and secular States promote neither, but respect equally the right of each citizen to hold and manifest their personal beliefs. In a pluralist democratic society such as Ireland, a secular Constitution is the only way to protect equally the rights of religious and nonreligious people.
1.4 We recommend the following three categories of amendments:
(a) Remove specific references to God, such as all authority coming from the Holy Trinity and our obligations to our divine Lord Jesus Christ (Preamble); powers of government deriving under God from the people (6); blasphemy being an offence (40); the homage of public worship being due to Almighty God and the state holding his name in reverence (44); and the glory of God (Closing Line).