Please support Atheist NI – new atheist and secular advocacy group formed in Northern Ireland

Atheist NII’m very pleased to see the formation of Atheist NI, an advocacy group that seeks to represent the views of atheists in Northern Ireland, and to work towards a rational, ethical and secular Northern Ireland, free from superstition and supernatural beliefs.

Northern Ireland has had as strange a relationship with its atheists as has the Republic of Ireland, both before and after the island was partitioned.

An atheist and a violent party man

In April 1859, a Belfast Presbyterian was horrified when he was accused of being an atheist. James McAldin had been removed from a jury panel in a court case, and he believed that it was because his name “had a Roman Catholic sound to official ears”. However, the Attorney General told the House of Commons that McAldin had been set aside because he was “an atheist and a violent party man”.

McAldin wrote a letter to the Times saying that “the charge of atheism is such an odious accusation that I trust to your sense of justice to permit me to repel it.” He was also upset by being called “a violent party man” but he described this accusation as being “not so damaging” as being labelled an atheist.

The churches owned all of the graveyards

Nearly 150 years later, in August 2008, a man was told that he could not bury his dead mother in Donegal, in the Republic of Ireland, because churches owned all of the graveyards in Donegal and none would bury an atheist. Therefore, unless Roy Greenslade was willing to compromise his late mother Joan’s beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it was impossible for her to be buried.

She was eventually buried in nearby Derry, across the border in Northern Ireland. The city council’s cemeteries department said they had different areas in the municipal graveyard for Catholics, Protestants and even Muslims. Asked whether they were starting an atheist section for Mrs Greenslade the reply was: “No, we’re putting her in with the Protestants.”

The mission of the newly-formed Atheist NI

Today Northern Ireland finally has an advocacy group to challenge these and similar anachronistic views. This is its mission:

  • We advocate an ethical and secular country where religion is not given privilege, support or endorsement by the State.
  • We seek a rational and evidence based society without superstition and supernatural belief systems.
  • We want to erase the negative global image of Northern Ireland by combating religious fundamentalism and all its nonsensical ideas and dangerous effects.

How you can help to support Atheist NI

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21 Comments

  1. What is meant by “a violent party man” ?

    Being called an atheist in 1859 could be very harmful to your business, so I understand the concern for that.

  2. My family is from the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland.

    That made things kind of strange when they’d visit for weddings, funerals or, most importantly, the Grand National. I still remember being asked whether I was a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist.

  3. Hi

    I have a facebook page (Northern Ireland atheist) and i was wondering if we could help promote each others pages

  4. William, I help run the Atheist NI page and we’d love to hear from you.

    We just had our monthly Sunday brunch, with our highest turnout yet, despite missing quite a few regulars for various reasons.

    It’s very encouraging.

  5. Hi colin

    I would be pleased if you could inform me of any future meeting you intend to hold. If it would be ok with yourself i will inform my facebook followers of intended meetings

  6. Hello colin, i just heard a debate on downtown radio, with you, i think, or one of atheist n.i reps, im a christian, an i think your arguments are weak, would you be willing to debate me on radio or by phone, my email is above, get in contact, christy

  7. Christy, I too herd that ‘debate’ on downtown, I was very disappointed that I couldn’t phone in to join the debate.

  8. Christy, it was me on Downtown, I had 20 minutes notice, much of it spent driving there, and was a little nervous as it was my first time on the radio, so wasn’t at my fluent best.

    The priest was allowed to speak for over 7 minutes uninterrupted. I managed four before I was interrupted, at which point the priest disputed a fact stated in the very survey we were there to discuss, about which he was, plainly, wrong. I wasn’t given much chance to speak further.

    My arguments were correct, the priest’s were not.

    I’d be happy to debate you in any venue but you’ve not provided an email address or contact method.

  9. Christy, that’s not a valid email address.

    No, I’m in Bangor. We have a small number of people in the Derry/Coleraine region who have debated Christians in the past, very low key thus far.

    Don’t presume Christianity is the default position, it isn’t. It must be taught to people, thus cannot be a default.

    Short answer: Evidence.

    Long answer: The same reasons you reject Islam, Hindu as Zoroastrian faiths.

  10. Thats my email mate, put yours up an il mail you, colin your assuming , that im presuming which is given me a taste for whats to come, i havent told you my view, dont be assuming mate gets you no were, what would you like to debate about brother?

  11. I presume the blog added the http part automagically.

    I’m rather pressed for time this next 6 weeks, but I’ll send you an email to establish contact at least.

    We’re considering podcasts or possibly hangouts, which might work given the distances.

    I’m more interested in debating how atheists and theists can coexist and build secular society than the old, dog-tired stuff, which frankly has been done to death.

  12. Drop me an email colin whenever you get the chance, so you dont want to debate origins, this is the main debate, you cant have a debate about theists an atheists, coexisting in a secular ireland, thats not a debate, your skipping completley the main focus, to which is mans origins, i have atheists friends, i get along gran with them, but i dont agree with there religon, ie atheism

  13. “your skipping completley the main focus, to which is mans origins, i have atheists friends, i get along gran with them, but i dont agree with there religon, ie atheism”

    Oh ffs. I have a postgraduate degree in the biological sciences, and I’m currently studying exoplanetary astronomy. I am not interested in talking to a creationist, or someone who thinks atheism is a religion.

    Given you’ve failed twice to even provide a working email address, I’m not sure there’s much to discuss.

  14. I wont even use the k.j bible to debate, unless you wanted to, im coming from a scientific argument, ie testable an observable evidence, creation.

  15. Colin calm down mate, doesnt matter what degree you have, that means nothing, atheism is a religon, unless you have an unidentified, view of mans origins, we have two choices, intelligent creation, or chance,( molecules to man evoloution ), which dou you reside with?

  16. Christy was just reading the comments made here about you wanting to debate Colin Morrision, i see he played look at my education and all my degrees card again , we hear this kind of nonsense all the time from these people , they try to belittle everyone that disagrees with their belief system by talking a load of cods whallop about their so called education , all the worldly knowledge and not an ounce of wisdom ,

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