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Media Training

The Mid-West Humanists plan some media training, in July 2015. This will be of particular use to those who will be speaking on behalf of the MWH to the press or in public.

There are limited places. As usual, contact the Mid-West Humanists on info@midwesthumanists.com

Support Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech

We are Charlie Hebdo

Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo

Is sinn Charlie Hebdo

I and I hope most Mid West Humanists support the right to life of 10 staff at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and of 2 officers of French police; and support their right to freedom of speech, and all people’s right to read any writing and any cartoon or other communication, whether or not it criticises or satirises any idea, whether religious, political, social, sporting, or scientific.

I praise Charlie Hebdo staff for publishing words and pictures without any respect for the ideas of several religions.

 

Are you powerless to do anything about some people murdering cartoonists and journalists who are doing their job (enabling you to read things that are prohibited in some countries)?

You are not powerless.

On TV I see that all the government of France and very many of the people support the right to speak, draw, and publish any matter, irrespective of any offence to any ideas.

France has a principle of secularism in the state (laicité) since 1905, now nearly half the time since the revolution in 1789. Ireland is weak in secularism, as the Constitution since 1937 states that blasphemy is an offence, and in 2009 our legislators continued a law to give effect to that article of the Constitution. Government and other people in Pakistan quote Ireland’s law to say that it is normal, including in Europe, for the law to prohibit criticism of religion. Our constitution and law fail to support the strong efforts of the constitution and law of France to maintain and defend freedom of speech. Today Thursday 08 January Dr Ali Salim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin said on RTE Radio 1 lunchtime news that it is correct that outraging many adherents of a religion is prohibited by law, and he said that if such outrage comes to his attention he will consult his lawyer as to what to do.

In 2013 the Constitutional Convention voted to suggest to the Government that they hold a referendum to let us choose to remove the law against blasphemy from the Constitution. The Government promised that it would hold this referendum, but at the end of 2014 they said that they will not let us vote on this.

 

You have power as a voter.

Visit all of the TDs in your constituency soon, and tell them that you demand that the Dáil and Senate vote for a bill to let us vote in a referendum on removing the sentence making blasphemy an offence from our Constitution. And tell them NOT to include substituting any sentence in its place.

I feel I owe this support to Charlie Hebdo’s journalists and cartoonists, and to all publishing staff there and in other parts of the world, and to the police who have been trying to protect them, as they are defending my right to freedom of speech.

 

Vive la liberté!

 

We are Charlie Hebdo

Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo

Is sinn Charlie Hebdo

New twitter account @MWHumanists

Hi All,

We have started a Twitter page (http://twitter.com/MWHumanists) for the
Mid-West Humanists group.

We’ll be tweeting about Humanism, Atheism, Skepticism, FreeThinking and Secularism, plus info and reminders about our own group.

Please follow it, promote it on fb, RT (re-tweet) us on your own twitter, stick a link to it on your blog, send us links, or content, or comments, or suggestions.

If anyone has ideas for promoting the group, let us know.

Thanks and Regards,
Mid-West Humanists, an Irish Atheist and Humanist Community,
in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary

Blog
@MWHumanists

More press contacts

Since 09/01/2013, the Clare Champion interviewed 2 County Clare humanists by telephone. We await the printed article.

On Tuesday 15/01/2013 Clare FM’s Morning Focus interviewed me about Humanism and the Mid West Humanists.

Update on getting the press to contact us

As planned at the meeting on 19 December 2012, I sent the general information document for the press on 08 January 2013, to local newspapers and to local radio stations. It describes the group and its aims, and provide a contact number and email for any paper or station who want a secular, humanist, or atheist view on any news items in the Mid West region.

Late on 08 01 2013 the Clare Champion telephoned and asked for some humanists in Clare that they could telephone. I got agreement from 2 of our members and gave their phone numbers to the Champion early on 09 01 2013.

Late on 08 01 2013 the Tipperary Mid West Community radio station phoned me, and I spoke on their Morning Call program with Joe Pryce on the morning of 09 01 2013. Early on 09 01 2013 Tipp FM radio phoned me and I spoke on their Tipp Today program with Seamus Martin the same morning.

The Limerick Post emailed me on 09 01 2013 and I am to speak to them on 10 01 2013 for a story about people moving away from Christianity.

This is all good news and good results from the press information pack. I hope that at times stories arise in the news here, we the local group will put input into local radio or newspapers.

What the Mid West Humanists sent to the press and radio on 08 January 2013

As planned I sent the following to 13 local newspapers and 4 local radio stations by email on 08 01 2013, and later by post. I sent this information document to those on the email and phone lists on 20 12 2012, and again on 07 01 2013.

—————————————————————–

Mid West Humanists

(People without religion)

General Information about the Mid West Humanists

The Mid West Humanists are a group of people (from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary) with no religion, or leaning that way (since 2008).

The Mid West Humanists meet monthly in Limerick, at present in the Absolute Hotel, 3rd Wednesday of the month at 20:00

The Mid West Humanists seek social and political changes, that society and the state should – (1) be secular; (2) treat equally people who have religion and people who have no religion; (3) be more open to people who have no religion.

How to contact the Mid West Humanists

Peter O’Hara is contact person for the media on Humanism, Secular society, or any connected matters.

Website                midwesthumanists.com

The contact person can speak (and obtain further people to speak) both on people’s personal experience of humanism and the change from religion, and also on government and non-government structures that create difficulty for or are unfair to people who have no religion (and the changes needed). Continue reading

Decemeber 2012 meeting: plans to encourage the press to contact us

Although the Mid West Humanists have met every month since 2008, at times stories arise in the news here, and we the local group have not put input into local radio or newspapers.

From the meeting in September 2012 the members have wanted to encourage the local press and radio to take input from us on  stories affecting humanist, atheist, and secular people, including cases of discrimination against them.

At the meeting on 19 December 2012 those present edited an information document for the press, and a press release which is due to be sent when the Constitutional Convention starts to look at the Blasphemy provision.
We plan to send the general information document to local newspapers and to local radio stations in the second week of January 2013. It will describe the group and its aims, and provide a contact number and email for any paper or station who want a secular, humanist, or atheist view on any news items in the Mid West region.

We hope this will mean that the local media will give our point of view some airing. We hope this will contribute to changes in society, towards a secular society.

Atheist Ireland Publishes 25 Blasphemous Quotes

Below is a repost from blasphemy.ie

From today, 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational, and we begin our campaign to have it repealed. Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine. The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage, and because Islamic States led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level.

We believe in the golden rule: that we have a right to be treated justly, and that we have a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

Publication of 25 blasphemous quotes

In this context we now publish a list of 25 blasphemous quotes, which have previously been published by or uttered by or attributed to Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, James Kirkup, Monty Python, Rev Ian Paisley, Conor Cruise O’Brien, Frank Zappa, Salman Rushdie, Bjork, Amanda Donohoe, George Carlin, Paul Woodfull, Jerry Springer the Opera, Tim Minchin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict XVI, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Ian O’Doherty, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Dermot Ahern.

Despite these quotes being abusive and insulting in relation to matters held sacred by various religions, we unreservedly support the right of these people to have published or uttered them, and we unreservedly support the right of any Irish citizen to make comparable statements about matters held sacred by any religion without fear of being criminalised, and without having to prove to a court that a reasonable person would find any particular value in the statement.

Campaign begins to repeal the Irish blasphemy law

We ask Fianna Fail and the Green Party to repeal their anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act that is included within the Act. We ask them to hold a referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.

We also ask all TDs and Senators to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Irish Constitution, including the clauses that prevent atheists from being appointed as President of Ireland or as a Judge without swearing a religious oath asking God to direct them in their work.

If you run a website, blog or other media publication, please feel free to republish this statement and the list of quotes yourself, in order to show your support for the campaign to repeal the Irish blasphemy law and to promote a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.

List of 25 Blasphemous Quotes Published by Atheist Ireland

1. Jesus Christ, when asked if he was the son of God, in Matthew 26:64: “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” According to the Christian Bible, the Jewish chief priests and elders and council deemed this statement by Jesus to be blasphemous, and they sentenced Jesus to death for saying it.

2. Jesus Christ, talking to Jews about their God, in John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” This is one of several chapters in the Christian Bible that can give a scriptural foundation to Christian anti-Semitism. The first part of John 8, the story of “whoever is without sin cast the first stone”, was not in the original version, but was added centuries later. The original John 8 is a debate between Jesus and some Jews. In brief, Jesus calls the Jews who disbelieve him sons of the Devil, the Jews try to stone him, and Jesus runs away and hides.

3. Muhammad, quoted in Hadith of Bukhari, Vol 1 Book 8 Hadith 427: “May Allah curse the Jews and Christians for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets.” This quote is attributed to Muhammad on his death-bed as a warning to Muslims not to copy this practice of the Jews and Christians. It is one of several passages in the Koran and in Hadith that can give a scriptural foundation to Islamic anti-Semitism, including the assertion in Sura 5:60 that Allah cursed Jews and turned some of them into apes and swine.

4. Mark Twain, describing the Christian Bible in Letters from the Earth, 1909: “Also it has another name – The Word of God. For the Christian thinks every word of it was dictated by God. It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies… But you notice that when the Lord God of Heaven and Earth, adored Father of Man, goes to war, there is no limit. He is totally without mercy – he, who is called the Fountain of Mercy. He slays, slays, slays! All the men, all the beasts, all the boys, all the babies; also all the women and all the girls, except those that have not been deflowered. He makes no distinction between innocent and guilty… What the insane Father required was blood and misery; he was indifferent as to who furnished it.” Twain’s book was published posthumously in 1939. His daughter, Clara Clemens, at first objected to it being published, but later changed her mind in 1960 when she believed that public opinion had grown more tolerant of the expression of such ideas. That was half a century before Fianna Fail and the Green Party imposed a new blasphemy law on the people of Ireland.

5. Tom Lehrer, The Vatican Rag, 1963: “Get in line in that processional, step into that small confessional. There, the guy who’s got religion’ll tell you if your sin’s original. If it is, try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer. Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate!”

6. Randy Newman, God’s Song, 1972: “And the Lord said: I burn down your cities – how blind you must be. I take from you your children, and you say how blessed are we. You all must be crazy to put your faith in me. That’s why I love mankind.”

7. James Kirkup, The Love That Dares to Speak its Name, 1976: “While they prepared the tomb I kept guard over him. His mother and the Magdalen had gone to fetch clean linen to shroud his nakedness. I was alone with him… I laid my lips around the tip of that great cock, the instrument of our salvation, our eternal joy. The shaft, still throbbed, anointed with death’s final ejaculation.” This extract is from a poem that led to the last successful blasphemy prosecution in Britain, when Denis Lemon was given a suspended prison sentence after he published it in the now-defunct magazine Gay News. In 2002, a public reading of the poem, on the steps of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, failed to lead to any prosecution. In 2008, the British Parliament abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.

8. Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath, in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, 1979: “Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

9. Rev Ian Paisley MEP to the Pope in the European Parliament, 1988: “I denounce you as the Antichrist.” Paisley’s website describes the Antichrist as being “a liar, the true son of the father of lies, the original liar from the beginning… he will imitate Christ, a diabolical imitation, Satan transformed into an angel of light, which will deceive the world.”

10. Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1989: “In the last century the Arab thinker Jamal al-Afghani wrote: ‘Every Muslim is sick and his only remedy is in the Koran.’ Unfortunately the sickness gets worse the more the remedy is taken.”

11. Frank Zappa, 1989: “If you want to get together in any exclusive situation and have people love you, fine – but to hang all this desperate sociology on the idea of The Cloud-Guy who has The Big Book, who knows if you’ve been bad or good – and cares about any of it – to hang it all on that, folks, is the chimpanzee part of the brain working.”

12. Salman Rushdie, 1990: “The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas – uncertainty, progress, change – into crimes.” In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of blasphemous passages in Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

17. Jesus Christ, in Jerry Springer The Opera, 2003: “Actually, I’m a bit gay.” In 2005, the Christian Institute tried to bring a prosecution against the BBC for screening Jerry Springer the Opera, but the UK courts refused to issue a summons.

18. Tim Minchin, Ten-foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins, 2005: “So you’re gonna live in paradise, With a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins, So you’re gonna sacrifice your life, For a shot at the greener grass, And when the Lord comes down with his shiny rod of judgment, He’s gonna kick my heathen ass.”

19. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, 2006: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In 2007 Turkish publisher Erol Karaaslan was charged with the crime of insulting believers for publishing a Turkish translation of The God Delusion. He was acquitted in 2008, but another charge was brought in 2009. Karaaslan told the court that “it is a right to criticise religions and beliefs as part of the freedom of thought and expression.”

20. Pope Benedict XVI quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, 2006: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” This statement has already led to both outrage and condemnation of the outrage. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world’s largest Muslim body, said it was a “character assassination of the prophet Muhammad”. The Malaysian Prime Minister said that “the Pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created.” Pakistan’s foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence”. The European Commission said that “reactions which are disproportionate and which are tantamount to rejecting freedom of speech are unacceptable.”

21. Christopher Hitchens in God is not Great, 2007: “There is some question as to whether Islam is a separate religion at all… Islam when examined is not much more than a rather obvious and ill-arranged set of plagiarisms, helping itself from earlier books and traditions as occasion appeared to require… It makes immense claims for itself, invokes prostrate submission or ‘surrender’ as a maxim to its adherents, and demands deference and respect from nonbelievers into the bargain. There is nothing-absolutely nothing-in its teachings that can even begin to justify such arrogance and presumption.”

22. PZ Myers, on the Roman Catholic communion host, 2008: “You would not believe how many people are writing to me, insisting that these horrible little crackers (they look like flattened bits of styrofoam) are literally pieces of their god, and that this omnipotent being who created the universe can actually be seriously harmed by some third-rate liberal intellectual at a third-rate university… However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel.”

23. Ian O’Doherty, 2009: “(If defamation of religion was illegal) it would be a crime for me to say that the notion of transubstantiation is so ridiculous that even a small child should be able to see the insanity and utter physical impossibility of a piece of bread and some wine somehow taking on corporeal form. It would be a crime for me to say that Islam is a backward desert superstition that has no place in modern, enlightened Europe and it would be a crime to point out that Jewish settlers in Israel who believe they have a God given right to take the land are, frankly, mad. All the above assertions will, no doubt, offend someone or other.”

24. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2009: “Whether a person is atheist or any other, there is in fact in my view something not totally human if they leave out the transcendent… we call it God… I think that if you leave that out you are not fully human.” Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection, we include the statement here to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

25. Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Justice, introducing his blasphemy law at an Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting, 2009, and referring to comments made about him personally: “They are blasphemous.” Deputy Pat Rabbitte replied: “Given the Minister’s self-image, it could very well be that we are blaspheming,” and Minister Ahern replied: “Deputy Rabbitte says that I am close to the baby Jesus, I am so pure.” So here we have an Irish Justice Minister joking about himself being blasphemed, at a parliamentary Justice Committee discussing his own blasphemy law, that could make his own jokes illegal.

Finally, as a bonus, Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, opposing attempts by Islamic States to make defamation of religion a crime at UN level, 2009: “We believe that the concept of defamation of religion is not consistent with the promotion and protection of human rights. It can be used to justify arbitrary limitations on, or the denial of, freedom of expression. Indeed, Ireland considers that freedom of expression is a key and inherent element in the manifestation of freedom of thought and conscience and as such is complementary to freedom of religion or belief.” Just months after Minister Martin made this comment, his colleague Dermot Ahern introduced Ireland’s new blasphemy law.

Thanksgivings are more like Childish Pleadings

I recently saw a section in the Limerick Post’s Classified section called “Thanksgivings” which contains entries such as this one:

Thanksgivings
Dear Heart of Jesus in the past, I have asked for many favours. This time I ask for this special one (mention request). Take Dear Heart of Jesus and place it within your own broken Heart, where your Father sees it, then in his merciful eyes, it will become your favour not mine. Amen. Say for 3 days and promise publication. Never known to fail. M.R.

Viewable through the Digital edition of the Limerick Post on Page 90 – here – these “Thanksgivings” are first-off completely ridiculous, the religious form of those ridiculous chainletter emails telling you “the love of your life” will contact you if you just pass on this email to 50 other people, generally including a warning for those who don’t heed it’s advice. Secondly, Private Religious Entreaties between one person and his/her God do not belong in a public newspaper! Now, I’m not going to be completely insensitive and say the whole prayer-filled world of the Obituaries and In Memoriams should be purged too, people are free to grive however they wish, although I would personally like to see the religious aspects of these sections toned down, that’s not a battle I’m willing to fight. Removing this kind of Religious Spam, however, IS a battle I’m willing to fight. As such, I sent a letter of complaint to the Limerick Post and it reads as follows:

I would like to raise an issue that I have with the “Thanksgivings” section currently printed within the Classifieds section of the Limerick Post. I think it’s completely out of place and I think it should either be removed completely or moved to be contained within the In Memoriam/Obituaries section.

These “Thanksgivings” are nothing but private entreaties between specific religious people and their God and I do not believe they have any place in a public newspaper, nevermind in the Classifieds section of such a newspaper. These notices are not offering or requesting any kind of service in this paper that cannot be done in private. I understand that we live in a pluralistic world, but as a reader of this paper, I personally do not want to come across them. If there is a place for God in a public newspaper it is in the In Memoriams/Obituaries section.

Not only that, but the comments themselves are of such a nature that, if one replaced the religious entreaties with calls for sending X amount of emails or saying a given phrase X amount of times, at which point the person’s greatest wish will come true, they would simply resemble crank chainmail messages, which most people label as SPAM. Also add to this fact, that the same “Thanksgiving” comment is printed 4 times, one after the other, in this section, and has been for at least 3 weeks running, that I have personally observed. Besides these issues, “Thanksgivings” are comments that express the thanks of one individual towards another individual or group. Hail Marys and Prayers are not thanks, and proferring them in the vain hope of having a “Greatest Wish” come true is not giving thanks for anything, it is being a child in a Tesco, throwing a tantrum because their mother won’t buy them a pack of smarties.

One last comment: Prayers and Hail Mary’s HAVE been known to fail, despite the comments made in these “Thanksgiving”. They are failing all over the world. Please, remove this Religious Spam from the Limerick Post.

Kind Regards,
Darragh Jennings.

If you would like to support the removal of this rubbish from the Limerick Post, please email them at classifieds@limerickpost.ie and mention the “Thanksgivings” section.

peace,
dj357

Atheists feel left out

This information comes from a report in the Irish Times on a survey carried out by the Irish School of Ecumenics.  They surveyed 700 faith leaders and 900 lay people about a range of faith related topics.  12% of the lay people self identified as atheist or no religion and and they felt that when they are talking noone is listening.  The report states that this 12% is disproportinate to their numbers in the general population and I find this comment very interesting.  I think that the proportion of atheists in the population is larger and their survey is faulty in the way they selected their sample 

Our survey was obviously limited to people who first of all heard about it (through the various channels we employed), and then were interested enough in the topic to visit our website and had the technical skills to complete it.

The poor design of the last census form practically guarantees that atheists and people of no religion will be underrepresented.  That 12% come through in a survey like this must give us hope that we are making progress.

Irish Times Article

Original report