Donegal ETB coerces students into religion class

Atheist Ireland has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act an email and letter from last September, from Donegal Education and Training Board, in the Minister for Education’s constituency.

In that internal exchange, the ETB’s Director of Schools advised Moville Community College to “write to the parents of the opt out students and get them back into the Religion class.” This was despite the fact that Donegal ETB had already officially recognised, in a press release last April, that ETB schools must respect the right to opt out of those religion classes.

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Atheist Ireland protests at TUI Congress

Atheist Ireland is today holding a protest outside the Teachers Union of Ireland National Congress in the INEC Centre in Killarney, Kerry, to coincide with the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, addressing the conference.

We are highlighting two things:

  1. The Teachers Union of Ireland refused to implement a lawful directive from the Department, that gave students opting out of religion class in ETB schools the right to an alternative timetabled subject. Instead of protecting the rights of minorities, the TUI successfully lobbied along with the Catholic Church and the ETBs to have the directive reversed.
  2. Now ETB schools are using the reversal of the directive to unlawfully coerce students into not even being able to opt out of religion class at all. We have obtained under the FOI Act an internal email in which Donegal ETB, in the Minister for Education’s own constituency, tells a school to write to parents of opted out students and “get them back into the Religion class.”

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Atheist of the Year Awards 2019

Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland was given the Atheist and Feminist of the Year award at the 2019 International Days of Atheism conference in Warsaw, Poland, this weekend. Armin Navabi, founder of Atheist Republic, was named individual Atheist of the Year, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation in USA got the group award.

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The Campaign Against the Irish Blasphemy Law

I gave this speech today, Friday 29 March 2019, at the Days of Atheism Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

When Atheist Ireland was founded ten years ago, our first task was simply to normalise the use of the words atheism and secularism in public debate.

We have come a long way since then. The Catholic Church no longer controls the Irish people. Our task now is getting the State to catch up with that reality.

That is a slow process. The Church still runs 90 per cent of our State-funded primary schools. But campaigns by civil society groups have succeeded in removing our laws against same-sex marriage and abortion.

I am pleased to say that, since I spoke to you here last year, we have also removed the medieval crime of blasphemy from our Constitution.

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The Campaign for the Right to Assisted Dying

I gave this speech today, Saturday March 2019, at the Days of Atheism Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

I spoke yesterday about the progress that we have made in Ireland in recent years on secular issues. The Catholic Church no longer controls the Irish people. Our task now is getting the State to catch up with that reality.

So far we have removed the Constitutional bans on same sex marriage, abortion, and blasphemy. In each of these referendums, the Irish people have voted by two to one for the liberal position.

But we have a lot more to do. The Catholic Church still runs 90 per cent of our State-funded primary schools. And our laws still ban assisted dying, even though the Supreme Court has decided that the Government has the right to legislate for it.

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How State Schools Break The Rules

Atheist Ireland has published a major new report titled How State Schools Break The Rules. It explains how the Department of Education, the ETBs, and the NCCA are breaching Constitutional and Human Rights and the IHREC Act in Religious Education in ETB schools.

We will be using this report as the basis of our political lobbying in the coming months. You can download the full 50-page document here. This article includes the recommendations of the report, examples of relevant law, and the executive summary.

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Blasphemy Repeal Bill now with Attorney General

The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, has advised Atheist Ireland that the Bill designed to give legal effect to the outcome of last year’s blasphemy referendum has been forwarded from the Department of Justice to the Office of the Attorney General for formal Drafting.

It is called the Repeal of Offence of Publication or Utterance of Blasphemous Matter Bill 2019.

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Schools should not teach the morality of Jesus

I was asked today on Twitter why I would object to schools teaching children the morality of Jesus. Putting aside the question of whether Jesus existed, here are some examples of bad moral guidance given by the Jesus portrayed in the Christian Bible.

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‘Catholic students bullying Native American’ stories are false

The media stories about Catholic students bullying a Native American drummer at the Lincoln Memorial last week are false, unjust, and irresponsible. Longer video evidence shows that the bigotry on the day came from a group of Children of Israel street preachers. In this article, I analyse that video evidence.

These street preachers spent an hour and a half shouting outrageous sectarian, racist, sexist, and homophobic insults at Native Americans, the Catholic students, and another prayer group, and they incited the Native Americans to hate the students.

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