Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby MichaelNugent » Tue Jan 17, 2012 3:40 pm

These are five steps to civil rights in a secular Ireland. We will be lobbying to promote these proposals on an ongoing basis. We welcome any feedback before we send the final version to all TDs and Senators in the coming weeks.

Overview

Atheist Ireland wants a secular Irish State, where we each have the right to our religious or nonreligious philosophical beliefs, and where the State remains neutral on these beliefs. Religious States promote religion, atheist States promote atheism, and secular States promote neither. A secular state is the only way to protect equally the rights of religious and nonreligious people.

Step 1: Secular Constitution

    Remove the requirement for the President, judges and Council of State to swear a religious oath in the presence of Almighty God (Arts 12, 31, 34), and for the President and judges to ask God to direct and sustain them (12, 34), and replace these with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs.
    Remove the references to 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 a crime (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).
    Amend Article 44, on Religion, to explicitly give equal protection to religious and nonreligious philosophical believers. Examine and amend other Articles that are unduly influenced by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Step 2: Secular Education

    Establish a secular State education system, that makes no distinction between children based on religious beliefs, and ensure that secular primary schools are widely available.
    Ensure that all schools convey all parts of the curriculum, including religious education, in an ‘objective, critical and pluralistic manner’, as ruled by the European Court of Human Rights and recommended to the Irish Government by the Irish Human Rights Commission.
    Provide effective remedies for parents to vindicate, in practice and law, their human right to ensure that their children’s education is in conformity with their convictions.

Step 3: Secular Lawmaking

    End the prayer that starts each parliamentary day which asks the Christian God to direct the actions and every word and work of our parliamentarians, through Christ Our Lord.
    Examine all existing and future laws to ensure that there is one law for all, based on human and civil rights and not on religious beliefs.
    Remove the law against blasphemy from the Defamation Act 2009.
    Repeal Section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000 and Sections 12 and 37 of the Employment Equality Act 1998, which allow schools, teacher training colleges and hospitals to discriminate on religious grounds.
    Amend the Charities Act 2009, which includes the advancement of religion as a charitable purpose, and tax religious organizations on income that is not for genuine charitable purposes.

Step 4: Secular Government

    Ensure that neither the Government, nor any institutions of the State, give preferential treatment or access to any organization on the basis of their religious or nonreligious beliefs.
    Until this ideal is reached, ensure that nonreligious philosophical organizations are given the same treatment and access as are religious organizations.

Step 5: Secular Courts

    Remove the requirement for judges to swear a religious oath, and replace it with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the judge’s religious beliefs.
    Remove the requirement for defendants, witnesses and jurors to choose between a religious or nonreligious oath, and replace these with a single neutral declaration (or a question asked by the judge) that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs.
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby paolovf » Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:26 pm

I think this reads very well and is clear and concise. I particularly like the was it points to European Court of Human Rights.

I read today that Joan Collins had asked to have daily prayer removed from the Dail as well as the Presidential oath [source]. I thought I had read that the removal of the daily prayer was discussed in the Seanad towards the end of 2011 but never heard anymore??

Either way I think it's great that Atheist Ireland are also formally raising these issues.


(edit: grammar)
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby MichaelNugent » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:52 am

Here is an expanded version of the above, with some more specific examples...

Step 1: Secular Constitution

    Oaths: Remove the requirement for the President, judges and Council of State to swear a religious oath in the presence of Almighty God (Arts 12, 31, 34), and for the President and judges to ask God to direct and sustain them (12, 34), and replace these with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs.
    God: Remove the references to 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); 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).
    Religion: Replace the Article about religion (44) with a new Article about freedom of thought, conscience and religion; remove the reference to the State honouring religion; and explicitly treat religious and nonreligious philosophical beliefs equally.
    Expression: Remove the crime of blasphemy from Article 6, and revise the rest of Article 6.1.1 to explicitly give priority to freedom of expression.
    Education: Remove the reference to the inalienable duty of parents to provide for religious education of their children, and revise the rest of Article 42 to facilitate the setting up of a State secular education system.
    Other: Examine other Articles that have been unduly influenced by Roman Catholic teachings, such as the impact on the rights of women of the reference to the right to life of the unborn (40.3), and the references, in the section about the family, to women having a life within the home and mothers having duties in the home that might be neglected by having to work (41).

Step 2: Secular Education

    Establish a secular State education system, as the default education system that is open equally to all children, that makes no distinction between children based on religious beliefs, and that does not include faith formation within school hours.
    Until this ideal is reached, ensure that nondenominational primary schools are widely available in all regions of the State, as proposed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
    Ensure that all schools convey all parts of the curriculum, including religious education, in an ‘objective, critical and pluralistic manner’, as ruled by the European Court of Human Rights, as enshrined in the Toledo Guiding Principles, and as recommended to the Irish Government by the Irish Human Rights Commission.
    Provide effective remedies for parents to vindicate, in practice and law, their human right to ensure that their children’s education is not counter to their convictions, as enshrined in Human Rights treaties and based on rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

Step 3: Secular Lawmaking

    End the prayer that starts each parliamentary day which asks the Christian God to direct the actions and every word and work of our parliamentarians, through Christ Our Lord.
    Examine all existing and future laws to ensure that there is one law for all, based on human and civil rights and not on religious beliefs.
    Remove the law against blasphemy from the Defamation Act 2009.
    Repeal Section 7.2(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000, which allows a school to discriminate on the grounds of religion, when admitting pupils, in order to protect its religious ethos.
    Repeal Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act 1998, which allows a school or hospital to discriminate on the grounds of religion, when employing new staff and when dealing with existing staff, in order to protect its religious ethos.
    Repeal Section 12.4 of the Employment Equality Act 1998, which allows certain colleges that train teachers or nurses to discriminate on the grounds of religion, when admitting trainees, in order to protect the religious ethos of the schools and hospitals who will employ them.
    Repeal or amend Sections 5.2(e) and 6.5 of the Equal Status Act 2000, which allow a person to discriminate on the grounds of religion, in relation to providing goods or services or selling a premises or providing accommodation, when it is for a religious purpose, but not when it is for a nonreligious philosophical purpose.
    Repeal or amend Sections 3.1(c) and 3.4 of the Charities Act 2009, which includes the advancement of religion as one of four listed charitable purposes; and presumes, unless the contrary is proved, that a gift for the advancement of religion is of public benefit; but does not provide in the same way for the advancement of nonreligious philosophical beliefs.
    Repeal or amend Section 3.6 of the Charities Act 2009, which provides that the terms of a charitable gift for the advancement of religion shall be construed in accordance with the laws, canons, ordinances and tenets of the religion concerned; but does not provide in the same way for the internal rules of nonreligious philosophical bodies.
    Repeal or amend Sections 98 and 247 of the Copyright Act 2000, which allow recordings to be played for free at non-profit events for the advancement of religion, but not at similar events for the advancement of nonreligious philosophical beliefs.
    Amend Section 54 of the Civil registration Act 2004, which allows religious bodies to apply for members to be appointed to solemnize marriages for civil law purposes, but does not allow non-religious philosophical bodies to apply.

Step 4: Secular Government

    Ensure that neither the Government, nor any institutions of the State, nor any State-funded bodies, give preferential treatment or access to any organization or category of people, on the basis of their religious or nonreligious philosophical beliefs.
    Until this ideal is reached, ensure that nonreligious philosophical organizations are given the same treatment and access as are religious organizations.
    Ensure that all aspects of Government are conducted consistently with the State’s international obligations on human and civil and other personal rights, with particular regard to the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, the OSCE, and the various United Nations treaties which Ireland has signed.

Step 5: Secular Courts

    Remove the requirement for judges to swear a religious oath, and replace it with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the judge’s religious beliefs.
    Remove the requirement for defendants, witnesses and jurors to choose between a religious or nonreligious oath, and replace these with a single neutral declaration (or a question asked by the judge) that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs.
    Amend Schedule 1 of the Juries Act 1976, which provides that a person in Holy Orders, a religious minister or a member of a religious order is excusable as of right from jury duty.
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby MichaelNugent » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:27 pm

Okay, here is version three.

This includes some of the extra examples from version two, but tightens up the language so that we can fit it all onto one A4 page when we are distributing it.

Step 1: Secular Constitution

    Remove the requirement for the President, judges and Council of State to swear a religious oath in the presence of Almighty God (Arts 12, 31, 34), and for the President and judges to ask God to direct and sustain them (12, 34), and replace these with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs.
    Remove the references to 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); 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).
    Remove the crime of blasphemy (6); rewrite Article 44 on religion to cover freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and remove the duty of parents to provide for religious education of their children (42); review other Articles unduly influenced by Roman Catholicism such as the right to life of the unborn (40.3) and and mothers having duties in the home (41).

Step 2: Secular Education

    Establish a secular State education system and ensure, as raised by the UN Human Rights Committee, that nondenominational primary schools are widely available throughout the State.
    Ensure that all schools convey all parts of the curriculum, including religious education, in an ‘objective, critical and pluralistic manner’, as ruled by the European Court of Human Rights.
    Provide effective remedies for parents to vindicate, in practice and law, their human right to ensure that their children’s education is not counter to their convictions.

Step 3: Secular Lawmaking

    End the prayer that starts each parliamentary day which asks the Christian God to direct the actions and every word and work of our parliamentarians, through Christ Our Lord.
    Examine all existing and future laws to ensure that there is one law for all.
    Amend the Defamation Act 2009 to remove the crime of blasphemy.
    Amend the Equal Status Act 2000 and Employment Equality Act 1998, which allow schools and hospitals and training colleges to discriminate on the grounds of religion.
    Amend the Charities Act 2009, which includes the advancement of religion as a charitable purpose; and presumes that a gift for the advancement of religion is of public benefit; and provides that the terms of such a gift shall be construed in accordance with the internal rules of the religion concerned; but does not provide in the same way for nonreligious bodies.
    Amend the Civil registration Act 2004, which allows members of religious bodies, but not nonreligious bodies, to be appointed to solemnize marriages for civil law purposes.
    Amend the Juries Act 1976, which exempts priests and religious ministers from jury duty.

Step 4: Secular Government

    Ensure that neither the Government, nor any institutions of the State, nor any State-funded bodies, give preferential treatment or access to any person or organization or category of people, on the basis of their religious or nonreligious philosophical beliefs.
    Until this ideal is reached, ensure that nonreligious philosophical organizations are given the same treatment and access as are religious organizations.
    Ensure that all aspects of Government are conducted consistently with the State’s international obligations on human and civil and other personal rights.

Step 5: Secular Courts

    Remove the requirement for judges to swear a religious oath, and replace it with a single neutral declaration that does not reveal any information about the judge’s religious beliefs.
    Remove the requirement for defendants, witnesses and jurors to choose between a religious or nonreligious oath, and replace these with a single neutral declaration (or a question asked by the judge) that does not reveal any information about the person’s religious beliefs, as ruled by the European Court of Human Rights.
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby mkaobrih » Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:34 am

Saw this today http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/mo ... 01164.html
The last line is interesting
The final issue being considered is the provision of an optional secular, rather than religious, judicial declaration on appointment.
The church complains of persecution when it's not allowed to persecute.
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby Beebub » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:32 am

Saw this too. Front page of today's Irish Times and again on page 8.

Although the closing remark from Carol Coulter gave me some concern:

Meanwhile, the much vaunted constitutional convention will be considering such weighty matters as the blasphemy law and lowering the voting age - for further consideration by the government at an unspecified later date.


Although the judges declaration issue is welcome, I'd be disappointed if it means putting the blasphemy law on the long finger.

Anyone else hear more about this?
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Re: Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland

Postby Bik » Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:09 pm

Were those 5 points sent to TDs and Senators, if so what feedback was received?

Apologies if this was discussed in another thread, I may have missed it.
"Prayer has no place in the public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion." Superintendent Chalmers
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