Jane Donnelly and I are in Poland today for the OSCE Human Rights Conference on Human Rights. This is the first time an Irish atheist advocacy group has taken part in an OSCE event. We will highlight the need for a secular Irish Constitution, education system and laws where the state is neutral about religion and protects the equal right of each citizen to freedom of and from religion.
The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It includes 56 States from Europe, North America and Asia. Next year Ireland will chair the OSCE for the first time. This week’s conference in Warsaw is about how the OSCE States address human rights issues, and Atheist Ireland will take part in the session this morning on freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.
Earlier this year, the World Atheist Convention in Dublin launched a new umbrella advocacy group called Atheist Alliance International, which we hope will be liaising with the OSCE on a regular basis in future years. Delegates at that Convention also debated and adopted the Dublin Declaration on Secularism and the Place of Religion in Public Life. Today we urge all OSCE States and NGOs to discuss, adopt and promote the principles in the Dublin Declaration on Secularism.
In particular, we urge the Irish State to hold referenda to remove the religious clauses of our Constitution, to establish a secular State education system that respects the human rights of all citizens, to replace religious oaths for officeholders and in courts with neutral declarations, and to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and the clauses that exempt religious organisations from complying with Irish equality laws.
Religious States promote religion. Atheist States promote atheism. We want a secular State, which promotes neither. We want a secular State for a pluralist people, where citizens behave ethically and the State does not take sides on religious issues.