A new organization in Ireland that wants to take God out of the Irish constitution – and block recent plans by Irish Department of Justice which could see people fined €100, 000 ($134,000) for blasphemy.
Atheists Ireland is largely the brainchild of a Dublin-based writer called Michael Nugent, who co-wrote a hit musical in Ireland called, “I, Keano” (based on the story of how Roy Keane walked out on the Irish soccer team during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea).
According to Nugent, “The Irish Government’s new proposed blasphemy crime combines the oppressive religious thinking of 1950s Catholic Ireland and modern Islamic fundamentalism.”
The proposals, which are included in a new defamation bill, say that “a person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000.”
“Blasphemous matter” is defined as “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”
Nugent argues that the proposed law does not protect religious belief, but encourages outrage and criminalizes free speech.
He further argues that the new law treats religious beliefs as more valuable than secular beliefs and scientific thinking.
“From a scientific perspective, I find it abusive and insulting that Christians teach impressionable children that the creator of the universe impregnated a virgin to give birth to himself, or that many dead bodies rose from their graves and walked through Jerusalem when Jesus died,” Nugent argues.
“If enough atheists are outraged about these passages, should the Christian Bible be banned?”
A spokesman for the Department of Justice told Irish Central that the proposals were nothing new, but were rather to reform existing blasphemy laws going back to 1961, which include a seven-year jail sentence for blasphemy.
“The law is carefully worded to ensure there will be no spurious cases taken,” the spokesman said.
Atheists Ireland also want to remove references in the Irish constitution to God.
Under the Irish Constitution, you cannot become president or be appointed as a judge unless you take a religious oath.
There are a number of other references to God in the constitution, Nugent points out.
“The preamble to our Constitution states that all authority of the State comes from, and all actions of the State must be referred to, a specific god called the Most Holy Trinity.
“It also humbly acknowledges all of the obligations of the people of the State to a specific god called Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Nugent says.
He also objects to the fact that the Irish parliament begins each day’s business with a prayer.
“Our national parliament recognizes the rights of this god by starting each day’s business with a prayer to it. This prayer explicitly asks this god to direct the actions of our parliamentarians, so that their every word and work may always begin from and be happily ended by Christ Our Lord.
“We should be amending our Constitution to remove these theistic references, not creating new crimes to enforce provisions that were written in the 1930s.”