Help change the Irish Penal Law of 2015: end discrimination against teachers who are atheist

by Michael Nugent on July 11, 2015

AI Penal Laws Advert png

The Irish Government is proposing a Bill to protect LGBT teachers, while allowing discrimination against atheist and minority faith teachers. Atheist Ireland is campaigning to change this Bill so that it protects all teachers equally.

This is a rare opportunity to change an unjust law and promote equality. here’s how you can help.

  • Share the above image and link widely on social media
  • Become familiar with the law and its problems.
  • Contact your local TDs and Government Ministers
  • Volunteer to help with our campaign to change this law
  • Donate to our campaign to change this law

For further information on how to help, please email us at humanrights@atheist.ie

How the Government Bill is flawed

To become familiar with the proposed law and its problems, please read the following articles on http://atheist.ie.

The Government is arguing that the proposed law is a step forward, but if you read the detail you will find that it is reinforcing and institutionalising the right to discriminate against atheists.

There is also a different Bill before the Dail, proposed by the Anti Austerity Alliance TDs, that addresses the problems in a way that would protect all teachers equally.

This is a rare opportunity to change an unjust law and promote equality. Please help us to do so. For further information on how to help, please email us at humanrights@atheist.ie.

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emmanuel July 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Michael I find your contrast of Penal Laws to your agrument to be offensive to the Memory of Christians in Ireland. Shameful.

2 Michael Nugent July 13, 2015 at 11:25 am

Emmanuel, thanks for that opinion.

Would you feel the same if state-funded schools today were excluding teachers because they are Catholic?

Do you agree that state-funded schools should not be allowed to exclude teachers because they are Catholic?

Do you agree that state-funded schools should not be allowed to exclude teachers because they are atheist?

3 Nialler July 13, 2015 at 1:32 pm

It’s simply incredible that this conversation should be taking place.

When I describe education in Ireland to French people they are horrified.

4 Emmanuel July 13, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Michael the penal laws for Christians in Ireland was very dehumanizing and not very inclusive. The Christians where left second class citizens and not full human. But best if I leave out the emotive in my opinion.
At that time the State (among other laws) was forcing Christians to accept the Anglican church as the Church.

So to answer your question firstly I would like to say that the State should not be in the running of Schools. It has no business in Education.

Would you feel the same if state-funded schools today were excluding teachers because they are Catholic?
No. Authentic Catholicism would be taught in Orthodox Catholic places of learning. The Co-Ed that we have in this country is not teaching Orthodox Catholic teaching at all. You know that. So any ‘Catholic’ in a State Funded School who signed up would have to leave their Catholicism at home.

Do you agree that state-funded schools should not be allowed to exclude teachers because they are Catholic? (or atheist)
The State sets its own criteria and curriculum, depending on the government of the Day they can exclude whom they like. That’s why I think it is important to keep Section 37.

As you have reminded me before you are for equality to for all. But I think that the take of one Right of one group for another is wrong. Government should not be in the business of Education and Section 37 should stay.

I have asked the Senators when a genuine Catholic run school adhering to the Catholic Faith and the ideas of Cardinal Newman for a Catholic University is established in Ireland; will the Private run Catholic School be able to hire its own Orthodox employs under Section 37? They said no as they were looking to remove it. So if the government can pick on one group to exclude they can pick on all. Section 37 should stay.

5 Michael Nugent July 13, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Thanks, Emmanuel. I’ll respond to the rest of your comment later, but first I want to address this part:

“Michael the penal laws for Christians in Ireland was very dehumanizing and not very inclusive. The Christians where left second class citizens and not full human.”

You are understating the injustices of the penal laws against Catholics and others, and you seem to be also underestimating the injustices of the current laws against atheists and others.

Atheists are literally second-class citizens in Ireland today. Atheists cannot be President, a Judge, Taoiseach, Tanaiste, chair of the Dail or Senate, or Attorney General.

Most atheists cannot vindicate our right to educate our children in schools that do not violate our conscience, and state-funded schools lawfully exclude atheists as teachers.

With regard to the “not fully human,” some Christians seem not to have learned any lessons from that.

Jane Donnelly and I attended a seminar on pluralism in Irish schools a couple of years ago, at which two Catholic theologians said from the podium that atheists are not fully human.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor has also told the BBC, twice, that atheists are not fully human.

While the extent of infringements on human rights were far worse four hundred years ago, the underlying religious discrimination remains the same.

The state should treat everybody equally, regardless of their religious or nonreligious philosophical beliefs. The state should govern us within society on the basis of our conduct, not our beliefs.

6 Nialler July 13, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Emmanuel:

The State most certainly has a central and ibligatory role in education.

Have you never heard of the Social Contract? Society expects us to behave in a certain manner within that society, so it has a matching bligation to educate us all in a manner which allows us to operate within society and hopefully to flurish in it.

If nt the State, then who should be responsible?

I see the benefits here in France of a purely secular education. The clergy and religious people see it too. If you allow RE in schools and allow Sate control then the State indirectly controls religious education. If you leave education to the religious orders we see the frankly disgusting and appalling outcomes.

If you want your child to attend a religious school here then you pay for it. The State doesn’t offer vouchers or subvent it to the same extent as it does for pupils in secular schools. There is no capitation.

There is one ironic side-effect to this. In the school my son attended last year two parents had older children in one of the few Catholic schools in the Département. Private schools are, after all, considered to provide kids with a slightly better education.

The parents were Muslim.

Even in the schools with a religious ethos it came down to overall quality of education. Not religion.

Even those schools cannot discriminate on the basis of religion regarding their teachers – let alone their pupils. If they are recruiting a RE teacher they can only consider their qualifications and not their personal beliefs.

7 Emmanuel July 14, 2015 at 11:48 pm

Michael
I am aware of the Cardinals statement. I don’t agree with it all. It was wrong. I believe atheist do ask the big questions Dr. Antony Flew comes to mind. Was Dr. Flew any less human? No.
I can try to understand from where the Cardinal was coming from. That those who reject the outright notion of God they deny a part of that natural part of human nature which is natural religion. I could be wrong.
With Flew I don’t think the Cardinal could say the same. However Michael if I understand your writings and talks you don’t deny God you just don’t have prove. I don’t think you are any less human. You have done may good works and seek for the good of society.
“Atheists cannot be President, a Judge, Taoiseach, Tanaiste, chair of the Dail or Senate, or Attorney General.” I don’t know how the government can’t allow Atheist an alternative. I have no problem with Atheist having an alternative.

You said “Most atheists cannot vindicate our right to educate our children in schools that do not violate our conscience, and state-funded schools lawfully exclude atheists as teachers.” Is this the same even in the Educate together Schools?

I don’t believe one should do anything against their conscience. For the Christian Belief and Practise go hand in hand. Government need to respect that too.

Thank you.

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