Saturday, 20 May 2017





Why we need a secular state for a pluralist people

The Irish population is no longer in thrall to the Catholic Church



Ireland urgently needs to separate church and State, to protect equally everyone’s right to freedom of religion or belief. The recent census showed that one in 10 of our population identifies as having no religion, more than all minority religions combined, and the real figure is probably much higher.Yet we have grown up with religious discrimination that is so prevalent it is almost invisible, perpetuated by a nod and wink political ethos of religious subservience.
Until relatively recently, homosexuality was illegal, divorce was unconstitutional and the Virgin Megastore was fined for selling a condom.
Today, we still have religious oaths that prevent a conscientious atheist from being president, a judge, attorney general, taoiseach, tánaiste or chair of the Dáil or Seanad.
The Catholic Church runs most of our State-funded schools and hospitals, with exemptions from our equality laws that allow them discriminate on the grounds of religion. We are often told that this is for historic reasons, but the Government plans to gift a new ¤300 million National Maternity Hospital to the church.
Most State-funded schools can give preference to Catholics, and can evangelise non-Catholic children by integrating a Catholic ethos throughout the curriculum. Atheists and religious minorities cannot access the teaching or medical professions, in State-funded schools and hospitals, without religious discrimination.
The Constitution still refers to the place of women in the home, and pregnant women still have to travel abroad for abortions. Religious bodies can solemnise marriages while also promoting political causes, but secular bodies are forbidden from doing so.
Dáil prayers
Earlier this month, our parliament voted to force all TDs to stand for a Christian prayer asking “Christ Our Lord” to direct every aspect of their work. And our police have just investigated a complaint that Stephen Fry blasphemed on our national television station, which broadcasts a Catholic call to prayer at prime time every day.
We are so accustomed to this avalanche of religious discrimination that we do not realise how outrageous it is.
Atheist Ireland lobbies at the United Nations and Council of Europe for Ireland to respect the human rights treaties to which it has signed up. In recent years, 10 international human rights bodies have told Ireland that our schools breach the human rights of atheists and religious minorities.
In the Louise O’Keeffe case, the European Court told Ireland that, regardless of who runs the schools, the State remained responsible for protecting the human rights of pupils.
Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe human rights commissioner, said he had never seen anything like the Irish school system, where patron bodies are holding the State hostage.
Waleed Sadi, United Nations economic, social and cultural rights rights chairman, compared Ireland to a developing country, saying we are unique in Europe where separation of church and state is almost sacrosanct.
Nigel Rodley, the late United Nations Human Rights Committee chairman, linked many of our social problems to the Catholic Church, and said our law treated pregnant women as vessels.
Blasphemy law
In contrast, Pakistan, on behalf of Islamic countries where blasphemers face the death penalty, has cited the Irish blasphemy law as best practice internationally.
We urgently need a secular Constitution, parliament, government, education system and healthcare system.We need one law for all, with no discrimination or privilege for religious people or atheists.
The most substantive religious discrimination is in our schools, against parents, children and teachers from atheist and religious minority backgrounds.
But the current plans from Minister for Education Richard Bruton will simply fine-tune and reinforce the existing discrimination against our three communities and other minorities.
The Minister is focusing on fine-tuning the relatively small problem of access, but is not addressing the far more important problem of discrimination and evangelisation within the schools.
Even if the State provided the 400 multidenominational schools that it hopes to within 15 years, that would still be a small proportion of the more than 3,000 religious-ethos schools.
And the church is trying to negotiate a stronger Catholic ethos in the majority of schools that it would retain. That would leave most atheist and minority-faith parents in an even worse position than now.
The Irish population has moved on. We are no longer in thrall to the Catholic Church. But our politicians, laws and Constitution need to catch up with the people.
“We are so accustomed to this avalanche of religious discrimination that we do not realise how outrageous it is

PAT SAYS:

I totally agree with all that Michael Nugent says above with the exception of his views on abortion.

We need TOTAL separation between church and state in Ireland.

No one church or religion should be favoured in anyway by the state.

Ireland must be a secular, pluralist and modern democracy.

State officials should only attend church services in their private lives as individuals.

Far too much evil and suffering in Ireland has come from the far too close relationship between the state and religion.


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33 comments:

  1. This issue came up on the blog within the last ten days or so if I am not mistaken and a few excellent posters(with credentials a lot more impressive than Nugent's in some cases) went to a lot of pains to explain in detail why the complete division of Church and State is well-nigh impossible. There are none so deaf as those who don't want to hear. There seem to be some people who genuinely never learn. On a nominally "Catholic" blog, we are once again subjected to the ramblings of an atheist. This surely must be rock bottom but at least it should inveigle some other professed and closet unbelievers out of the woodpile. I would put my money on that.

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  2. Nugent! What would expect from a Pig but a grunt!

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  3. Why should taxpayers fund 'secular' education? It is not a value-neutral system of education, it is a type of education with particular values. If people want it, then by all means, the state should facilitate.

    But I see nothing but hypocrisy in the argument that Catholics must pay taxes to fund a system of schooling which, in many cases, runs contrary to their values if those taxes will not at the same time fund Catholic schools as well. Catholics are taxpayers too and have the right to send their child to the school of their choice, not one with an ethos dictated for them by the passing fads and fashions of the State.

    I have said it before - introduce a system of vouchers. Give each parent an amount to spend on their child's education. Introduce legislation capping fees so that everyone can afford it. That legislation should provide that sufficient secular schools must be provided throughout the state. Then leave the rest to the free market. Those who want 'secular' education can have it, those who want Catholic education can have it, those who prefer the Church of Ireland ethos can have it.

    I see no reason why I should be forced by the State to submit to its demands about the type of education it deems fit for my child. The State is not neutral and I do not trust it to make decisions on my behalf - the State is in reality Fine Gael or Fianna Fail or whoever is in power at any particular time - would you really trust that shower of gangsters? And likewise, no parent should be obliged to educate their child in the Catholic system.

    But this making a demigod out of the State, as if the State were a benevolent value-neutral entity (and thus its schools the same) is a nonsense. The irony is that those who complain long and loud about the dictatorship of the Church seek to replicate in secular form all that was wrong about the Church's overly dominant role in Irish society. Exactly the same story, just a different ideology replacing the old.

    I don't expect to impose on others my beliefs or ideas about how children should be educated. But I am certainly not going to let others, imbued with a spirit of secular paternalism, impose their allegedly 'secular' beliefs on me or my children.

    TRS

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    1. Hear! Hear! Well said indeed..

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    2. Can't help but broadly agree with you. But the State, not religious organisations, must have last word on control and management of all schools.

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    3. I note the oblique reference to Ireland's blasphemy laws. We have seen recently (in the context of the ridiculous investigation of Stephen Fry) a sense of embarrassment by many Irish people at the alleged backwardness of our laws, a throwback to priest-ridden Catholic Ireland. The blasphemy laws were presented by commentators to represent the degree of control that the Church allegedly still exercises in Ireland.

      But yet the blasphemy law was introduced precisely because the constitution only protected Christian belief - the blasphemy law exists for the sole purpose of protecting the beliefs of those of other faiths from gratuitously insulting comment - such as the cartoons of Mohammed.

      In short, Ireland's blasphemy law has absolutely nothing to do with Catholicism.

      Of course, the question of whether a blasphemy law is appropriate is an entirely different question. I am firmly of the view that God does not need Irish legislation to protect Him.

      TRS

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    4. We are all required to be witnesses for Christ in our daily lives. That is our highest priority and obligation and is a great privilege. As a baptised Child of God you have something infinitely more special than just being a secular person. To see yourself in purely secular terms is to deny yourself your birthright and to severely downgrade the whole reason for your existence! I would never agree to that.

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    5. Well I think it depends what we are talking about. Secularism is the belief that the State exists for the common good, a common good which may be ascertained without reference to religious belief. But some erroneously confuse this type of secularity with the idea that one must be 'secular' or irreligious in one's personal beliefs. Most American Catholics, for example, even conservative religious ones, are secular in the first sense. It is thought that the American experience of the separation of Church and state was influential in the final wording of Dignitatis Humanae and Gaudium et Spes at Vatican 2.

      Those documents spoke of religious freedom, reversing (or developing according to changed circumstances, depending on your point of view) the teaching of the Pius popes that the role of the state was directed to the supernatural end of man. In discussions with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who was upholding the earlier understanding of the role of the state (a critical doctrinal stumbling block for the SSPX even today), the then Cardinal Ratzinger argued that the state itself is neutral, and that the common goods in society can be found by reason rather than religious revelation. He argued further that the state cannot coerce belief or moral conduct.

      What is interesting is the confused implementation of this subsequently. Catholic thought is somewhat incoherent in arguing for freedom in some areas, such as religious belief, but on the other hand insisting or arguing for specific Catholic doctrines such as a ban on divorce to prevail at other times. It is one of the areas of Vatican 2 theology which lacks proper considered development at the practical level.

      TRS

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  4. Surely as the house of cards falls in on the Roman Catholic Church and its Irish Empire its grip and control on all the aforementioned will in turn just fal in and crumble away.

    The big question will it be replaced by Protestants, Musilim, or Jews.

    We who it won't be replaced by.

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    1. As long as it is the right kind of secularism who cares? Secularism needs to be evidence based and honest to be real secularism. It certainly ignores alleged revelations from a God and magical doctrines for once a state starts promoting such ideas trouble will ensue. A lot of what passes for secularism is in fact just arrogant nonsense.

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    2. The right type of secularism is an indifference to religious questions. The wrong type of secularism is a militant atheism seeking to impose its world view on everyone else.

      TRS

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  5. I, too, agree with Michael Nugent, on everything except direct abortion. To this I am unalterably opposed. (What you do to the least of these, you do also to me.)

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    1. We are glad you said that MC, about the savagery of abortion

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    2. I think it absolutely disgraceful that good people, with principles stemming from their religious beliefs, should be automatically labelled "not modern". Are all aspects of so - called modern secular society good for the well-being of our children and teenagers and for society in general? In Heaven's name, what exactly are we missing out on?!! Be careful what you ask for in case you get it.

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    3. Secularism does not claim to be a good way to handle things but the best way. With religion being too close to the state big problems happen as well.

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    4. Many people admire Pope Francis. He seems to be picking the right fights. I think people can discern the true from the false. Atheism tends to feed of bad religion, and there has been a lot of that around.

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  6. It's a question of finding a happy medium and creating a society that is open and respects the needs of all. I still believe we should be true to our Christian heritage while respecting equality and diversity. Should the Queen step down as head of church of England? If heathen England can find a happy medium so can Ireland

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    1. Then again, Christianity is dead in England - widely reported fact. 40% of English youth do not believe that Jesus was an historical character, but a mythological one, such as Hercules.

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    2. No it is those who want the Christian heritage who should be true to it. Most people only want bits of it and that is not being true to a Christian heritage.

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  7. Its strange how all the liberals who used to demand pluralism now insist on secularism for all. For over 1400 years our irish culture has been tied up with christianity. The preamble to the constitution of ireland makes reference to God protecting the historic catholic nation foreigners attemtpted to crush. The irish catholic/christian experience is a huge part of being irish. Secularism in ireland comes originally from wolfe tone who hated the catholic church , a common enough prejudice in "enlightenment" europe. Most modern secularists share his motivation it would appear.

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  8. What a load of sh** this blog has become. Big Hank, Magna Carta and Sean Page commenting as per, all we need now is MMM and Zerotime. If this is the beginning of a new Church God Fu**ing help us.



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    1. 11.35 God help you and I'm sure He/she will 😀

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  9. People like Nugent show their real ugly face on the abortion issue. Anybody who countenances the direct taking of unborn life shows a fundamental moral flaw that permeates all their thinking and reasoning. It's no surprise then that religious influence is so threatening for them.

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  10. @18.43
    You're right on the money---spot on correct! And then people have the audacity to try to tell us that the "State should be completely secular!" These are precisely the sorts if issues that today's excellent first poster(who mentioned that this matter was dealt with ten days ago) was alluding to.

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  11. What a load of sh** this blog has become. People who remain Anonymous commenting as per, all we need now is Mfor them to climb out of the darkness. If this blog is not the beginning of a new Church of God but Fu**ing better of that Anonymous isnt around to help the founders as they only seem to be negative and not wanting to hear the truths that are out there.

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  12. Any new church / congregation / spiritual venture can only succeed in becoming something good if God and His Holy Spirit is behind it.

    Those of us involved in the ICC believe and know that.

    We seek His help and guidance and the opinions of others are really irrelevant.

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    1. Except your own opinion Pat?

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  13. Well spoken Pat, there seems to be anonymous people who only want to run down what you personally are up to. Its almost as if they would rather drive you away from God altogether. We already know they cannot handle the truth or criticism about whatever faith they belong too.

    The ICC is I hope a good and spiritual new home or even just a resting place for pilgrims on life's journey. The likes of Mr or Mrs Anonymous would never be happy with it no matter how close to perfection it came.

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    1. And hopefully we will not repeat the mistakes of others.

      I have never lost faith in God.

      But oh how I have lost faith with some of those to claim to represent him :-(

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  14. I cannot agree more no matter what sides of the various fences you belong to, those who represent him here on this sod can be very unchristian and uncharitable for that matter.

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  15. Pat, Is this new church a bid for becoming a new Pope? Nothing would surprise me!

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    1. Nonsense :-)

      I will hold no office in the church apart from servant.

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