This is my talk to the IBKA International Atheist Conference in Cologne, Germany, last Sunday, the day after the Irish marriage equality referendum win was announced.
While I would have preferred to be in Ireland for the celebrations, it was invigorating to see the impact of the result on an international audience who had mostly seen Ireland as a purely Catholic country.
The result vindicates the argument that Atheist Ireland has made for years: that Ireland is no longer a Catholic country, but a pluralist country with Catholic laws, and that our task now is to get the politicians to catch up with the people.
Extract: Lessons from the marriage equality referendum
Full talk: five steps to peaceful secularism
The five steps that I propose we follow for peaceful secularism are:
1. Stand up to violence
2. Seek respectful dialogue
3. Start with human rights
4. Be proactive in politics
5. Establish secular schools
This is my talk today at the International Atheist Conference in Cologne, Germany. The theme of the conference was “Give Peace a Chance: Secularisation and Conflict.”
There is a monument in Dublin to Charles Stewart Parnell, the 19th Century Irish politician, who memorably said: “No man has the right to fix the boundary of a nation. No man has the right to say to his country, thus far shalt thou go and no further.”
Parnell was talking in 1885 about Irish freedom from British rule, but after independence a different set of boundaries were put in place. The 1937 Constitution became Ireland’s religious Berlin Wall, declaring that all authority comes from the Most Holy Trinity and humbly acknowledging our obligations to Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ.
Yesterday’s historic vote for marriage equality has started the fall of Ireland’s religious Berlin Wall. Finally, love and hope have burst through the boundaries of fear and control that were set in stone eighty years ago. As the first country in the world to endorse marriage equality by popular vote, Ireland can never again be seen as a repressive Catholic State.
I am looking forward to flying back tomorrow to a more compassionate and equal Ireland than I flew out of after voting on Friday.
Atheist Ireland held a press conference yesterday to support a Yes vote for marriage equality on Friday 22 May, and a No vote to the Presidential age change referendum on the same day. The reason for both recommendations is the same: to protect and promote human rights, and to reduce religious discrimination in Ireland.
Next month, on 8th and 9th of June, Jane Donnelly and I will represent Atheist Ireland in Geneva, when the United Nations will be examining the Irish State about its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We will be briefing the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and […]
7.30pm tonight, Screen Cinema, Dublin, enjoy the Irish premier of A Better Life: Atheists and Joy. Tickets only €5, subsidised by Atheist Ireland. We had a lovely dinner yesterday with producer/director Chris Johnson from New York, who will be doing a Q&A after the film. Drinks afterwards, venue to be announced. Chris produced this film […]
Atheist Ireland hosted a marriage equality debate in Wynns Hotel Dublin on Wednesday. Supporting the referendum were Max Krzyzanowski and Brendan Butler. Opposing the referendum were Susan Philips and Tom Carew. The debate was chaired by Ashling O’Brien, the Chair of the Dublin Regional Branch of Atheist Ireland. This is part two, the audience Q&A. […]
Atheist Ireland hosted a marriage equality debate in Wynns Hotel Dublin yesterday. Supporting the referendum were Max Krzyzanowski and Brendan Butler. Opposing the referendum were Susan Philips and Tom Carew. The debate was chaired by Ashling O’Brien, the Chair of the Dublin Regional Branch of Atheist Ireland. This is part one, the speeches and rebuttals. […]
This is Helen Ryder’s powerful pro-marriage-equality speech at Atheist Ireland’s public debate yesterday. We’ll have the full debate online soon. “Twenty nine years ago I married the man that I loved. I married him in a Catholic Church. We swore vows to each other that we would love each other to the end of time. […]