Ireland Must Get Rid of Its Blasphemy Law

Right now, Ireland is in the midst of a Constitutional Convention and they’re considering a change to the blasphemy law.

Michael Nugent, the chair of Atheist Ireland, makes a strong case for why that law must be repealed in The Journal:

The blasphemy law brings our parliament and our laws into disrepute. It does not protect religious belief; it incentivises outrage and it criminalises free speech. It also treats religious beliefs as more valuable than atheistic or secular beliefs. There are definitional problems around the wording that is citing elements of degree to enact the offence. And 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.

He’s absolutely right on all counts — there’s just no good reason for this law to be in effect. You expect it from a theocracy, but not a thriving democracy. Blasphemy laws are nothing but a modern-day witch-hunt, and atheists who speak out against religious myths will be caught in the crosshairs if this law stands.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • the moother

    Ireland may be a democracy in that people get to cast a vote. But those vote-casting folk are terribly soaked in religion as is evidenced by this stupid law that was only passed a couple of years back.

    Not to mention their idiotic stance against abortion. They have recently made a minor concession as they were forced to by public outrage but it’s not nearly enough.

    To their credit, the Internet Generation is not at all as backward but it seems ever more likely that they’ll need to wait for the church-going bigots to die off before meaningful change can be realised.

    • Hat Stealer

      This is why I’m thankful that we have a Supreme Court here in the States that- for the most part- fulfills its constitutional obligation to step in whenever someone goes too far. Without knowing too much about Ireland’s legal system, it seems to me like they lack these safeguards, and the result is that the majority ends up instituting some pretty repressive laws.

      • Lagerbaer

        Ireland does have a Supreme Court, but the thing is this: If your job is to determine whether or not certain laws are unconstitutional, you only have the constitution to work with.

        • Erp

          Also supreme courts tend to be conservative (lowercase ‘c’). Remember it was the US court that decided Dred Scott and Plessy vs. Ferguson and also Minersville vs. Gobitis (though the last was overturned by almost the same court 3 years later).

  • GubbaBumpkin
  • Gordon Duffy

    Every religious statement or action is likely blasphemous to someone. So Blasphemy Laws should be seen as outlawing religion entirely.


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