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Ireland must become a secular State and her Constitution must reflect this

A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion. Secular states do not have a state religion or equivalent, although the absence of a state religion does not guarantee that a state is secular (from Wikipedia).

When Ireland’s Constitution was drafted, this was an entirely different country. The Catholic Church had undue influence on those who wrote the Constitution and we must now acknowledge that a Constitution fit for the 21st century cannot endorse any one religion. Indeed, we must embrace non-religion as a valid choice.

What must change?

1. Preamble

Specifically the introductory paragraphs:

“In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom
is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all
actions both of men and States must be referred,
We, the people of Éire,
Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our
Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers
through centuries of trial,”

The Preamble is an offensive piece of fantasy fiction which implicitly states that all the people of Ireland are Christian and that all authority comes from a Christian God. The authority of the State comes from the people, not God. The existing Preamble may be replaced with something more concise and inclusive, such as:

“We, the people of Éire,
Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution, and proclaim that sovereignty resides and shall reside in the People of Ireland, not any form of institution of the State.”

2. Articles 12, 31 and 34

Articles 12, 31 and 34 prescribe the oaths of office for the President, the Council of State and judges. All must swear “in the presence of Almighty God” to fulfil the particular role. The oaths finish with the words “may God direct and sustain me”. So if an atheist or non-Christian is appointed as a judge he or she has no option but to swear an oath to a ‘supreme being’ which he/she does not believe in. How can we demand dishonesty? How can we preclude non-believers from a State position?

These oaths must replace the words “Almighty God”/“God” with the phrase “the people of Ireland”.

3. Article 40.6

“The publication or utterance of blasphemous ... matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

The law should protect people from harm, but not protect ideas from criticism. So the word “blasphemous” should be deleted from the above article.

4. Article 44

“The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.”

The State should allow for the freedom to practice religion, certainly, but the above clause should be deleted in its entirety. Who is this ‘Almighty God’? Is it the same God that rules Jews and Muslims? What about those who revere multiple Gods? What about atheists who don’t believe in the existence of any Gods? Why is the State holding the name of any one God in reverence? Article 44 just doesn’t make any sense in a modern, inclusive society.

Conclusion

Ireland needs a modern, secular Constitution which allows all citizens, of all religions and none, to live together as equals. The State must remain neutral on matters of religion. The sections of the Constitution as detailed above are remnants from another time. To many, they are offensive, incredible and discriminatory. The people of Ireland deserve better.



Secular Ireland

Secular Ireland was founded by Gary J Byrnes and made the above submission to the Constitution Convention in February 2013. Join Secular Ireland on Facebook and help to make a better future.


Make a submission to the Convention and read the Irish Constitution at www.constitution.ie

www.GaryJByrnes.com

https://www.facebook.com/GaryJByrnesThrillerWriter

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