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Doubt Your Religion? You Can Be Happy Without It

In July the report on the (bad) management of sexual abuse claims in the Cloyne diocese was published, and our Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke soon after in the Dáil about how we should not have a religious institution (or a foreign state) obstructing our laws and procedures that we have to protect our children. So at our meeting in Limerick on 20 July 2011 the group thought that people who might be leaning towards not having religion, but who did not know anyone else inclined that way, might be in more need than usual of meeting other such people. So we plan to hold a facilitated discussion with this as our title on 21 September at 20:00 in the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel, Limerick .


Questions for Election Candidates


Time for us all to go into election mode.  I’ve seen a lot of elections and to my shame I’ve never properly engaged with politicians.  They came to my door, shook my hand and muttered some platitudes and comments about me doing my best for them on polling day and that was it.  How were they to know what my priorities really were?  Well not any more – I intend to ask each canvasser a small number of questions about the issues that matter to me.  Their answers will inform my decision about how I will vote and hopefully my questions will inform them about the kind of issues I’m concerned about.

We discussed this at the January meeting of the mid-west humanists.  There was general agreement that it is a good idea and that perhaps we should go further.  Some organisations issue questions to candidates and publish the answers as a kind of voters guide.  It is a very good way for an interest group to let politicians and the wider public know about their concerns.  See this example from the Atheist Community of Austin.

We decided to draw up a list of questions relating to humanist/atheist/skeptic concerns that we could send to candidates and publish their answers.  The very fact of sending out a press release will generate interest in the topics chosen and in our work because the media is always looking for new angles during an election.  Listed below are some suggested questions. 

  1. Do you favour bringing education fully into state control?
  2. Do you favour having no law against blasphemy?
  3. Do you favour removing the requirement in the constitution that judges and the president swear a religious oath on entering office?
  4. Do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion?
  5. Do you favour the removal of funding for religious chaplains in state funded institutions?

Please feel free to suggest amendments or additional questions in the comments.

Independant Roman Catholic


It seems to me being in Fianna Fail is a lot like being in a religion.  And like a religion it’s hard to leave.  So what does a TD or Senator do when they have a difference of opinion with the party?  They become Independent Fianna Fail.  Is this the answer for Catholics who still subscribe to the principles of their religion but want to express their disdain for the organisation and its failings?  Style themselves as Independent Roman Catholic.  And it could be a bit like moving from a contract phone to Pay as You Go – make a contribution when they go to mass and pay for any ceremonies needed like weddings, funerals etc.

Christian Persecution Complex

One of the newest tactics among christian leaders, also evident in the popes speeches, is to claim persecution by the gastly atheists.  This is the film on this theme that was mentioned at our September meeting – Christmas with a Capital C.

March Meeting

Date    :           16th March 2010

Time    :           20:00

Venue  :           Carlton, Castletroy Park Hotel, Limerick.


  1. Presentation : Forbidden Fruit: Newton’s legacy to today’s economic, ecologic and ideological crises by Prof Conleth D Hussey, Professor of Lightwave Technology, University of Limerick.    Followed by a discussion.
  2. Any other business.

January Meeting

Our next meeting will be held as follows:

Date:    : 19th January 2010

Time    : 20:00

Venue : Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel, Limerick


1.  Talk by Louis Burke : The Humanity+Plus Summit

This is a conference that Louis attended that discussed the view that

Humanity will be radically changed by technology in the (possibly quite near) future. We foresee the feasibility of redesigning the human condition, including such parameters as the inevitability of aging, limitations on human and artificial intellects, unchosen psychology, suffering, and our confinement to the planet earth.

2. Book Review by Larry Maher : What You Can Change and What You Can’t by Martin E.P. Seligman.

This book review is not a deliberate response to Louis’ conference.  I originally decided to discuss it in the context of the view held by many that deep down everyone is the same and that they “can be anything they want.”  There are whole self-help industries based on this view but much of what they offer is stymied by our evolved nature.  However, it will hopefully offer some insights into what the limits on change, as seen by The Humanity+Plus Summit, may be. 

3. Anything anyone else wants to talk about.

Ethics Classes in Australian Schools

According to the Sydney Morning Herald ethics classes will be introduced in New South Wales, Australia schools, offering an alternative to religious studies, the Premier, Nathan Rees, will announce today.  Ten primary schools will begin a trial next year of the classes as an alternative to religious education.  The programme will teach students about ”fairness”, the importance of telling the truth and about how to deal with bullying.  ”Parents have said they want their children to be fully engaged when they are at school,” Mr Rees said. “The current system, however, does not allow for educational classes for children who do not participate in scripture (Religious Studies).  Read the full article.

Free to Offend

I’ve lifted this from The Ecomomist whole because it offers a great defence of free speech.  The only thing missing is a reference to our own blasphemy law.  JASON KUZNICKI at the Cato Institute offers a valiant defence of free speech against those who insist on a “right” not to be offended by what other people say.  He observes that challenges to free speech…..

have lately arisen from the right, from the left, from Muslim perspectives and even in the name of protecting children online. These challenges seem to share an underlying concern, namely that we must balance free expression against the psychic hurt that some expressions will provoke.

[Examples include] flag-desecration laws, hate-speech laws in the United Kingdom and Canada, U.S. college and university speech codes, the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act…

Although seemingly unrelated, these measures rely on a common assumption, namely that governments should provide emotional well-being to their citizens, even at the expense of free expression.

The result is not more happiness, but a race to the bottom, in which aggrieved groups compete endlessly with one another for a slice of government power.

The Economist commentator ends with…..

You may decide, out of politeness, to refrain from mocking my religion. But the government should not punish you if you choose to say what you really think, so long as you do not explicitly urge your friends to burn down my house.

Where does Morality Come From?

So you think you’re going to be in a tough debate – it’s like taking candy from a baby!morality

November Meeting.

Our next meeting will be as follows:

Date                      :               10th November 2009

Time                      :               20:00

Venue                  :               Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel.

 We are disappointed that our intended speaker from MarriagEquality has had to cancel.  She has promised to come to a future meeting. 

So the agenda for next Tuesday will have to be a surprise for all.