The Irish blasphemy law

Atheist Ireland has made a submission to the Irish Constitutional Convention, looking to get blasphemy out of the Irish Constitution.

3. Why the Irish blasphemy law in particular is harmful

(ii) The preamble to our Constitution states that all authority of the State comes from, and all actions of the State must be referred to the Most Holy Trinity. It also humbly acknowledges all of the obligations of the people of the State to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s just a bonkers thing to have in a constitution. Just nuts. That’s not the kind of thing it’s reasonable to expect an entire population to agree to or submit to! You can’t demand agreement on something that’s not decided by rational means in the first place. It’s not right.

(ii) Under the Irish Constitution, you cannot become President or be appointed as a Judge unless you take a religious oath under God asking god to direct and sustain you in your work. These religious declarations are contrary to Ireland’s obligations under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

And the reason for that is as above – people have differing views on it and there is no rational way to decide among them and it’s not reasonable to demand that people assent to supernatural claims.

(iv) In Article 44, the State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. This is not even an assertion of the right of citizens to worship this god. It is an assertion of the right of this god to be worshipped by citizens.

Hah! I love that one. That’s very elegant.

(xi) It has been suggested that the law as constructed was made deliberately unworkable to ensure it was never enacted. Even if this was true, such a stance relies upon a prevailing and consistent attitude amongst those in government considered sensible enough to ensure this remains the case. This is a dangerous assumption. We have already seen from the X Case, when the State sought an injunction to prevent a raped pregnant child from leaving the country, that religiously-inspired Constitutional provisions can be implemented when nobody expects it to happen.

Again: bonkers. Don’t make a “deliberately unworkable” law so that it won’t be enacted; just don’t make the law. Don’t play chicken with laws.

(xii) Likewise, if the law was constructed with such assumptions, this is parochial in the extreme and neglects the wider global implications of its existence. Indeed Ireland’s law has explicitly been cited as a precedent that should allow other countries to develop laws against blasphemy. Ireland’s stance on the matter runs counter to what is occurring in other western countries, and its own actions no longer occur in isolation and convey signals to the rest of the world. Blasphemy laws oppress ALL religious believers and non-believers as demonstrated by the actions taken by governments listed in Section 2(b).

Good luck to them. I very much hope they succeed.





  1. Argle Bargle says

    The atheists, Jews. Muslims and Hindus living in Ireland must not be too happy about that part of the Irish Constitution.

  2. sailor1031 says

    It’s the kind of law you get when the society is dominated by priests. It gets to be especially bad when the priests are the only ones organized enough to be leaders of society, as was the case in New France when the Ancien Regime was ousted. Priestly power coupled with an alien ruling class served to keep the population, especially outside the cities, docile and amenable to sacerdotal rule until the Quiet Revolution.

    I suspect that the withdrawal of the british administration at the formation of the Free State created a similar power vacuum. The priests who always had a lot of power anyway, seized the opportunity to make Ireland the kind of country they wanted it to be – a RCC theocracy as opposed to the that of the Church of Ireland which lost its establishment. Now, I hope, Ireland is embarking on its own quiet revolution, I hope they will be as successful as was Quebec – which is now the least religious province in all of Canada. Mort aux vaches!

  3. aziraphale says

    “all actions of the State must be referred to the Most Holy Trinity”

    I wonder how that works. Do some members of the Dail pray for guidance to God the Father, some to the Son, some to the Holy Spirit, and then take a (weighted) mean of the results?

    Or is the preferred method “Ask a Bishop”?

  4. kevinalexander says

    The Church has always cut the same deal with whatever dictator held power. You rob them of their wealth and we’ll rob them of their dignity.
    What happened in Quebec was almost a miracle though. If such a thing could happen in say, Haiti, that would be a miracle.

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