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Is there Prejudice against Atheists?


Just ask any atheist, chances are they will answer, “absolutely!” Many try to disguise discrimination against non-believers as a moral issue. Much of that is discussed in False Assumptions. That rhetoric gravely mirrors that which is used against homosexuals today and was used only decades ago against African-Americans. As acceptance for other minority groups and religions grows, Atheists will probably be the last to gain the protection under the ‘PC’ umbrella.

It has never been advantageous for religions to be accepting or even tolerant of Atheism and doubters. Their smear campaigns, criticism, censorship and punishment of dissenting opinions throughout history still echos today. It was seen strongest in the anti-communist era with Mccarthyism and is now seen in areas dominated by radical Islam.

A Newsweek poll found that 26% of registered voters think that Atheists are inherently immoral, only 29% would vote for an Atheist, and only 3% called themselves Atheists.

In another poll, 53% of US responders found Atheism ‘Unfavorable’. The next highest was Muslems at 29%.

The following exchange took place at the Chicago airport between Robert I. Sherman of American Atheist Press and George H. W. Bush, on August 27 1987. 
RS: 
“What will you do to win the votes of Americans who are atheists?”
GB: 
“I guess I’m pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.”
RS: 
“Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?”
GB: 
“No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”
RS: 
“Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?”
GB: 
“Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I’m just not very high on atheists.”

From Atheist Usenet Newsgroup FAQ

ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS AND NON BELIEVERS ARE THE TRUE CRIMINALS OF THE WORLD COMMUNITY” –tencommandments.org

“How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age worshipers of Satan, secular humanists … and homosexuals are on top?”
Pat Robertson

“… atheism is none other than raw depravity – the diabolical principle at work in people who dishonor their parents, murder, lie and commit every other moral crime.” – tencommandments.org

“Not only does atheism prevent atheists from properly understanding… but it prevents their minds from being elevated enough to understand the simplest common sense facts.” – tencommandments.org

“All you atheists are *******es. None of you have fought in any wars, or have done anything dangerous.”
– testify

“Have you been burned before? If not, then you will experience it for eternity, unless you accept Christ into your heart.”-guestbook

“THIS IS BS!!!! u guys have no right!! i know u are entitled to your own religion and ur own beliefs… but that is ALL BS!!! and u should be ashamed of urself!!! u inconsiderate a$$holes!!!!!!! TO HELL W/ ALL OF Y’ALL!!!!” – guestbook

Atheist

 

Jesus’ Children- A Religious experience- Well maybe not


Mr. Fish lives in Philadelphia, PA.  He never asked to be born.

Occasionally, he laughs his head off.  His mother has no idea what he’s up to.  She cries very easily.

via Mr. Fish, Cartoonist – Truthdig.

via Mr. Fish, Cartoonist – Truthdig.

Bill for secular marriages passes in Irish Senate, but it needs to be amended to treat all religious and secular bodies equally


The Irish Senate yesterday passed a Bill enabling secular bodies to nominate people who can legally solemnize marriages. Currently only the State or a religious body can do this. The Humanist Association of Ireland has for years nominated people who can conduct marriage ceremonies, but such marriages also have to be legally solemnized by the State.

The Bill could be a significant step forward for secularism in Ireland, but it has three important flaws that must be amended if it is to serve its intended purpose.

The definition of ‘secular body’ should be amended to define ‘secular’ objectively, and to include secular bodies that are not humanist;

Secular bodies and religious bodies should be treated equally in terms of restrictions when nominating people to solemnize marriages;

The restriction on secular bodies promoting political causes should be qualified to match the wording in the Charities Act 2009.

Please lobby your TD immediately to let them know about the need for these important changes. It will be debated in the Dail very soon, and it may be inaccurately presented there as providing equality between religious and nonreligious bodies.

1. The definition of ‘secular body’ should be amended

The definition of ‘secular body’ should be amended to define ‘secular’ objectively, and to include secular bodies that are not principally humanist.

45A(1) For the purposes of this Part, a body shall… be a secular body if it is an organized group of people and

(a) has not fewer than 50 members;

(b) its principal objects are secular, ethical and humanist;

(c) members of the body meet in relation to their beliefs and in furtherance of the objects referred to in Section (b);

(d)-(h)….

The difficulty here is Section (b): a body shall only be considered a secular body if “its principal objects are secular, ethical and humanist.” Secularism should never be defined in a way that necessitates allegiance to any particular version of a philosophical non-confessional belief system. This definition prevents secular bodies whose principal objects are not humanist from applying to nominate people to solemnize marriages.

For example, while Atheist Ireland is not seeking to nominate people to solemnize marriages, we could not support a Bill that would prevent us from having that option. Indeed, in principle, this Bill would prevent a purely secular body, whose objects stressed the philosophical neutrality of secularism, from being defined as a secular body.

This in turn subverts the stated purpose of the Bill, which is to extend marriage solemnizing not only to humanist bodies, but to any secular bodies that fulfill the other criteria in the Bill. It also subverts the ideal of political secularism, which is that a secular State is neutral between religious and nonreligious philosophical beliefs.

Proposal for Amendment:

Define a secular body as the European Union does: “A body shall be a secular body if… its principal objects are philosophical and non-confessional.”

2. Secular bodies and religious bodies should be treated equally

Secular bodies and religious bodies should be treated equally in terms of restrictions when nominating people to solemnize marriages.

The principal Act is the Civil Registrations Act 2004. This defines “a religious body” as “an organised group of people, members of which meet regularly for common religious worship.”

To parallel this, the New Bill should describe “a secular body” simply as “an organised group of people, members of which meet regularly to further secular aims.” Instead, the current Bill places a lot more restrictions on secular bodies that are not placed on religious bodies.

Putting aside the flawed definition of secularism, as outlined earlier, this Bill imposes the following restrictions on secular bodies that are not imposed on religious bodies:

(a) Must have not fewer than 50 members

(b) Must have specified principal objects

(f) Must have been in existence for at least five years

(g) Must have had tax exemption for at least five years

These restrictions should be imposed on both religious and secular bodies alike, or else they should not be imposed on either.

The Bill also describes obvious qualifications for secular bodies that the Principal Act does not describe for religious bodies:

(d) Must not have marriage rules that contravene the law

(e) Must have appropriate procedures for training and accrediting

If these obvious qualifications need to be explicitly stated, they should be stated for religious bodies and secular bodies alike.

Proposal for Amendment:

Either remove these discriminatory restrictions from secular bodies, or else have them apply equally to religious bodies and secular bodies alike.

3. The restriction on promoting political causes should be qualified

The restriction on secular bodies promoting political causes should be qualified to match the wording in the Charities Act 2009.

45A(2) None of the following is a secular body for the purposes of this part:

(a) a political party, or a body that promotes a political party or candidate,

(b) a body that promotes a political cause,

(c) an approved body of persons within the meaning of section 235 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997,

(d) a trade union or a representative body of employers,

(e) a chamber of commerce, or

(f) a body that promotes purposes that are—(i) unlawful, (ii) contrary to public morality, (iii) contrary to public policy, (iv) in support of terrorism or terrorist activities, whether in the State or outside the State, or (v) for the benefit of an organisation, membership of which is unlawful;

The difficulty here is Section (b): a body that promotes a political cause is excluded from the definition of a secular body.

The Humanist Association of Ireland, which is the primary body likely to apply in the first instance under the Bill, does promote a political cause. The Humanist Association of Ireland promotes separation of church and state.

Indeed, it would be extraordinary to find a secular body anywhere that does not promote the political cause of separation of church and state.

Furthermore, this exclusion seems to be a deliberate choice.

The entire wording of the Section of exclusions is transcribed, word for word, from the definition of “excluded body” in the Charities Act 2009, with just one difference.

The Charities Act qualifies “(b) a body that promotes a political cause,” by saying “(b) a body that promotes a political cause, unless the promotion of that cause relates directly to the advancement of the charitable purposes of the body,”

There is no reason why this Bill should remove that qualification from the definitions that it has transcribed from the Charities Act.

Proposal for Amendment:

Amend 45A(2) to read: “None of the following is a secular body for the purposes of this part… (b) a body that promotes a political cause, unless the promotion of that cause relates directly to the advancement of the secular purposes of the body,”

via Bill for secular marriages passes in Irish Senate, but it needs to be amended to treat all religious and secular bodies equally | Atheist Ireland.

via Bill for secular marriages passes in Irish Senate, but it needs to be amended to treat all religious and secular bodies equally | Atheist Ireland.

Religion should be taken out of schools. Leave it at home.


Last month, a 16-year-old student at Borrisokane Community College in Tipperary made an official complaint to the Irish Human Rights Commission. According to the Sunday Times, atheist Nathan Young alleges that his human rights were breached by compulsory prayer services.

Here, Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland argues that religion should be taken out of schools.

THERE ARE TWO good reasons why State schools should be run on a secular basis. But first, it is important to explain that a secular school is not the same thing as an atheist school.

A religious school teaches that a god exists, an atheist school would teach that no gods exist, and a secular school is neutral on the question of religion: it does not teach that gods either do or do not exist.

Instead, a secular school teaches children in a neutral, objective way about the different beliefs that different people have about gods, and leaves it up to parents and churches to teach specific religious beliefs outside of school hours.

Now here are the two reasons why State schools should be run on a secular basis. Firstly, it is good for society for children to be educated together. Secondly, in practical terms, secular schools are the only way to ensure that everybody has their human rights respected with regard to education.

Unfortunately, in Ireland we have no secular schools, and the Catholic Church runs more than 90 per cent of our primary schools.

In 2008 the United Nations Human Rights Committee raised concern about the human rights of secular parents and their children in the Irish education system.  The UN recommended that the State should open up non-denominational schools throughout the country.

Myth

This was not the first time that this issue has been raised by international human rights bodies. The UN and Council of Europe have now raised the issue of the rights of minorities in the Irish education system five times with the Irish State.

All schools at second level in Ireland are obliged to provide religious worship and instruction in the school and must employ teachers of religion approved by the relevant religious authority.

Borrisokane Community College is no exception, and it is clear from their school plan that it is Christian religious instruction and worship that takes place in the school. It is a myth that schools under the patronage of the VEC are secular non-denominational schools. There are no secular non-denominational schools at either primary or second level in Ireland.

The terms non-denominational, multi-denominational and interdenominational are not legally defined in Ireland. The result of this is that some schools call themselves multi-denominational even when they operate a specific religious ethos.

Church and State

The Department of Education is the patron of several schools in Ireland. The state has informed the UN that five of these are Catholic schools and four are Protestant schools. This means that in Ireland the State manages religious schools. In Ireland there is no separation of Church and state in the education system.

Borrisokane Community College is a religious school. One religion teacher allegedly said that prayer services can be for “Christians or atheists or agnostics or whatever”.  It seems silly to point out that atheists don’t say prayers and consequently have the right to opt out of prayer services but it obviously it needs to be said.

To put this into context, the State funds religious instruction and prayers services in schools. It funds the training of religious instruction teachers and pays their salaries. It does not provide any alternative classes for minorities who have a right to opt out of religion. Nor does it provide supervision for minorities who opt out of prayer services.

This is religious discrimination and it clearly breaches the human rights of minorities. In addition to this it permits religion to be integrated into all subjects. It is impossible for minorities to opt out of a religious ethos.

The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn claimed recently that VEC schools “whether designated to one religion or not, have long been recognised as some of the most inclusive schools in the state.”

Choice

Borrisokane Community College is what is referred to as an inclusive school in Ireland. These schools are held up as an example of how pluralist our education is. This is the choice for non-religious parents in Ireland. We can send our children to a religious school under Church patronage or we can send our children to a religious school under the patronage of the VEC.

Minister Quinn recently said that he did not want a secular education system but a pluralist system that provides parents with choice in relation to the education of their children. It is clear that he means choice between one private religious school or another private religious school, or if you are lucky a private multi-denominational school like Educate Together, and that there will be no choice for parents who seek a secular non-religious human rights based education for their children.

The Irish Constitution obliges the state to ensure that all children receive a basic moral education but the state only funds moral education based on religious values. It is a religious moral education or no moral education at all. Schools in Ireland can give preference to co-religionists in order to uphold a religious ethos.

The Equal Status Act provides exemptions for schools that operate a religious ethos. The European Convention on Human Rights Act only applies to ‘organs of the state’ and schools in Ireland are not considered ‘organs of the state’.  It is no wonder that the United Nations and Council of Europe are concerned about the human rights of minorities in the Irish education system.

Jane Donnelly is the Education Policy Officer for Atheist Ireland. You can find out more at their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. Atheist Ireland also runs the Teach Don’t Preach campaign for secular education – find it on Facebook here.

via Column: Religion should be taken out of schools. Leave it at home..

via Column: Religion should be taken out of schools. Leave it at home..

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