Saturday, 15 December 2012

I recently wrote about the privileged position of religion in the Irish constitution and law and how people who have no religion are discriminated against.

It seems my timing was impeccable, as a few days ago the International Humanist and Ethical Union published a report on discrimination against the non religious. The discrimination I mentioned last week is referred to, and severalk other European countries including the UK have a similar situation regarding secularity and religion and the protection of law.

However, as much as I love to complain, we don't have it so badly here. Not really.

There are countries where you can be sentenced to death for not subscribing to the state religion; for having a different belief or for being an atheist or agnostic. Those countries are: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, the Maldives & Mauritania.

If you have time, go read the report, or bits of it anyway. It's good to be informed, and to understand what a truly toxic relationship the marriage of state and religion can be.

A secular society is not an atheist one. It is not fundamentalism in any sense whatsoever. People in a fully secular society would be fully free to believe whatever they wish, and participate in rituals of whatever religion they choose (as long as their rituals don't infringe on the rights of others!). However, the laws would not favour one religion or type of belief over another. The law would ensure that schools and health services are not tarnished by religious morality. The law would ensure that taxpayers' money would not fund religious activities. The law would create a fair system - a truly democratic one. One in which innocent children are not subjected to declarations about sin, one in which women are not treated as second-class citizens purely because milennia of religious belief has engraved that notion in people's psyches, one in which the state does not murder its citizens for non-conformity to a belief system.

A final point - as shocking as it can be to learn about things like this, another shocking thing is the fact that I haven't seen this reported ANYWHERE in the mainstream media. Atheist Northern Ireland facebook page alerted me to it.

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