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Constitutional Convention Deadline

Submissions to the Constitutional Convention will close on 19th November 2013

The Constitutional Convention is to hold its last 2 weekend meetings in February 2014. The subjects which they will discuss on those weekends are not settled, and the Convention’s members will vote in early December 2013 on what these will be.

The Convention’s members will use the list of subjects on which people made submissions to the Convention website. They have full discretion and are not bound by the number of submissions on a subject, but may be considering the quality of the submissions.

The website is going to stop taking submissions on 19 November 2013.

Any person who wants to make a submission to the Constitutional Convention needs to put the submission on the Convention website by 19 November 2013. After that date the Constitutional Convention will cease taking submissions on its website.

The Mid West Humanists have encouraged people of no religion, and also people with religion who would like a secular constitution, to put their own submission on the Convention’s website.

We have aimed since the Convention was announced in 2011 to seek to have it consider a plan to make the Constitution secular.

At present it is not in any way guaranteed that the secular questions (other than blasphemy) will be discussed.

You can make it more likely that the main secular questions will be discussed, by sending in your individual submission, which need not be long or complicated. See further down for some ideas.

Blasphemy was discussed at the Convention’s meeting on Saturday 02 and Sunday 03 November 2013. The vote was to remove the anti-blasphemy clause.

At present the Convention’s website says it has 620 submissions in its “Submissions – Other” list. There are also at least 14 submissions for a Secular Constitution in the “Blasphemy” list. The three largest groups of submissions are on these subjects:-

Separate Church and State (Secular Constitution) – 158;

Environment to be protected in the constitution – 137;

Economic, Social, and Cultural rights (ESC) (includes a Home) – 135.

Of the 158 submissions asking for a Secular Constitution, some of these are about all the parts that need to be changed, and some are on single subjects, such as the Preamble, or the Declarations for President, Council of State, and Judges.

In order for the changes to make a Secular Constitution get discussed at the Convention, this subject must receive as many individual submissions as possible, not form letters or emails. The Mid West Humanists have encouraged people to write their own submissions and not to copy another person’s submission. We hope this will mean more submissions of good quality, which we hear is more important than the number of submissions.

The Mid West Humanists recommend any person who thinks the Constitution should be secular to make her or his own submission. Here are what the Convention’s website will ask of you:

Name (will be shown on their website)
(some submitters have entered other than their true name, but their submissions are on the website)

County (will be shown on their website)

Title of your submission (will be shown on their website)

Address; email address – WILL NOT BE ON WEBSITE;

Telephone number (optional) WILL NOT BE ON WEBSITE;

Submission version 1 in a text box – maximum 1000 characters including spaces. (will be shown on their website)

Submission version 2, being a doc or pdf file that you create (optional). (will be shown on their website)

You can make quick reference to the main Articles of the Constitution that have too much religious content in the text box with 1000 characters. It is sufficient to count as a submission that you give a title that clearly shows the issue you intend. You will have shown enough substance in your submission if you put a few sentences about the issue in the text box.

For a submission in favour of a secular constitution we think it will be enough if you name some of these Articles and that you want them removed or made secular. There are already some submissions with arguments for these changes: not every submission needs to detail the arguments.

Tell the Constitutional Convention that you want the Constitution to be Secular

The Mid West Humanists have sent one submission to the Constitutional Convention that the Blasphemy offence should be deleted;

another submission that several items in the Constitution should be changed to make the constitution secular; both on 24 May 2013;

and on 19 September 2013 a third submission that repeats the part of the second one that deals with a President, a judge, and a member of the Council of State being obliged to declare on starting the post that they so declare “in the presence of Almighty God“. We sent this because the Tánaiste making that declaration at the Council of State in July 2013 illustrated the bad effects of the mention of a god.

We have aimed since the Convention was announced in 2011 to seek to have it consider a plan to make the Constitution secular.

I write now because it is not in any way guaranteed that the secular questions (other than blasphemy) will be discussed.

You can make it more likely that the main secular questions will be discussed, by sending in your individual submission, which need not be long or complicated. See further down for some ideas.

Blasphemy will definitely be considered – at the Convention’s meeting on Saturday 02 and Sunday 03 November 2013. The Dail and Senate in July 2012 listed blasphemy as one of the topics that the Convention is to consider. The Convention’s website now states that on 02 and 03 November there will also begin consideration of Other Amendments. Other Amendments will get more discussion at the Convention’s last listed meeting on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 01 December.

As I write the Convention’s website says it has 301 submissions in its “Submissions – Other” list. The three largest groups of submissions are on these subjects:-

Right to a home;

Environment to be protected in the constitution;

Economic, Social, and Cultural rights (ESC).

I have not counted these submissions, but these 3 groups have at least 50 submissions each. On the website you cannot filter those or any other groups in order to count them, nor can you separate the Secular submissions from the “Other” set.

As I write there are 27 submissions asking for a Secular Constitution. Some of these are about all the parts that need to be changed, and some are on single subjects, such as the Preamble, or the Declarations for President, Council of State, and Judges.

In order for the changes to make a Secular Constitution get discussed at the Convention, this subject must receive more submissions.

The Mid West Humanists recommend any person who thinks the Constitution should be secular to make her or his own submission. Here are what the Convention’s website will ask of you:

Name (will be shown on their website)
(some submitters have entered other than their true name, but their submissions are on the website)

County (will be shown on their website)

Title of your submission (will be shown on their website)

Address; email address – WILL NOT BE ON WEBSITE;

Telephone number (optional) WILL NOT BE ON WEBSITE;

Submission version 1 in a text box – maximum 1000 characters including spaces. (will be shown on their website)

Submission version 2, being a doc or pdf file that you create (optional). (will be shown on their website)

You can make quick reference to the main Articles of the Constitution that have too much religious content in the text box with 1000 characters. It is sufficient to count as a submission that you give a title that clearly shows the issue you intend. You will have shown enough substance in your submission if you put a few sentences about the issue in the text box.

For a submission in favour of a secular constitution we think it will be enough if you name some of these Articles and that you want them removed or made secular. There are already some submissions with arguments for these changes: not every submission needs to detail the arguments.

Mid West Humanists send a submission to the Constitutional Convention on Declarations of Office

This is connected with the Council of State’s meeting in July 2013.

The Mid West Humanists have sent a submission to the Constitutional Convention on the declaration that the constitution says you must make on starting as President, or as a judge, or as a member of the Council of State.

This is our third submission to the Convention. In May 2013 we sent a submission on the Blasphemy law in the Constitution, because the Dail and Senate and the Government had sent this subject to the convention. At the same time we sent a submission on all the parts of the Constitution that have religious features and thus are not secular. This submission included asking to remove the Blasphemy law, but we sent the two separately because it was not fixed that the Convention would discuss making the Constitution secular.

In the Secular submission we noted that the Constitution tells a person (on starting the job) promising to do the job faithfully as President, as a judge, and as a member of the Council of State, that he or she must say she or he is doing this “in the presence of Almighty God“. The President and a judge must also add at the end “May God direct and sustain me

In the submission in May 2013 we had to speculate about judges who have no religion or do not believe in a god making these declarations, and so being dishonest; where honesty is one of the main features needed in a judge.

This was because we knew of no example of a person, publicly known to have no religion who had to deal with one of these declarations.

We sent the recent submission because in July 2013 President Higgins summoned the Council of State to meet with him to advise him over whether or not to refer the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill (the Bill to legislate for the 1992 X case on abortion) to the Supreme Court. (He decided not to refer it, but to immediately sign it into law).

At this meeting of the Council of State, an instance of the problems arising from the religious content of these declarations became public.

The Constitution says that the Tánaiste is automatically (“ex officio”) a member of the Council of State. Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore had said well before his election in 2011 that he does not have a definite belief in a god. Newspapers said in July 2013 that he got legal advice that he had a duty to go to the meeting of the Council of State, and that he should make the declaration including mentioning God.

This appears to mean that Article 31 of the Constitution has just directed or strongly encouraged the second in command of the executive branch of our government to speak dishonestly in public.

This part of the Constitution appears to encourage people to think is is okay for government ministers to be less than fully honest with the people:  this is likely to reduce people’s faith in the institutions of state and destabilise the democratic form of our government.

The Mid West Humanists’ submission on Secular Declarations of Office gives the above account and argues strongly that the religious parts of the declarations for a President, a judge, and a member of the Council of State must be removed.

UCD L+H Society have invited Mid West Humanist representative to speak on “This House would believe in a God”

On 06 August 2013 Valerie Tierney who is Debates Convenor for the Literary and Historical Society (L+H) of University College Dublin (UCD) invited the Mid West Humanists to send a representative to their debate on Wednesday 23 October 2013 on the motion –

“This House would believe in a God”.

I replied that we would send a representative to speak, against the motion.

The debate is sure to be in UCD, but we await instructions on the exact place, and on the time. The time is likely to be in the early evening. When we know we will post the time and place here.

Student debating societies are usually open to the public as well. So any Mid West Humanists can attend.

Mid West Humanists send submission to the Constitutional Convention on a Secular Constitution

At meetings in March, April, and May 2013 we have discussed a submission to go to the Constitutional Convention, on removing the parts of the Constitution that are biased  against people of no religion; and thereby making the Constitution secular.

The Constitutional Convention is due to discuss other aspects of the Constitution, which the Government did not put on its agenda, at its meeting on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 01 December 2013.

We are hoping that a Secular Constitution will be discussed then.

The Mid West Humanists have sent a submission, as detailed further below.

The more people who ask the Convention to discuss an issue, the more likely it will be that the Convention will deal with it.

So we suggest that every person who thinks the Constitution should  be secular should send their own personal submission to the Convention. You do not need to make a case with detailed arguments.

Go to the Constitutional Convention website, which has a button marked “Make a Submission” which will lead you to the submission page.

You can write “Secular Constitution” as the title of your submission. The site has a “Comment” box, in which you can write your views, up to 1000 characters (this 1000 includes the spaces between words). You can attach a file but you do not have to do so.

You will have to give your name, address, email, and phone number: but only your name and your County will be shown on the Convention’s website. Several submitters with titles that are clearly not real names have managed to get submissions in.

The Constitutional Convention website will lead you to the Mid West Humanists’  submission.

The page for an individual submission shows comment of not more than 9 lines, and a link to download the submission’s larger file. Our submission is in a Word file.

When you press that link the download box may say that the file is “AttachmentDownload.ashx” (rather than the name of our submission).
You can download the file – with the Save option (do not choose to open it immediately). When you see your own computer’s dialog box about where to save the file, you can rename this file. If your computer is not set up to open this dialog box, find where the saved file is and rename it.
Put any name you choose, but make its extension (suffix) .doc – “MidWestHumanistsSecular.doc”.
Microsoft Word will open the file – it remained a Word file but the Convention’s website renames it.

How the Mid West Humanists would like the various Articles of the Constitution to be after the changes is in a Meeting Report.

Here is what we sent to the Convention: –

from Mid West Humanists 22 May 2013

The Mid West Humanists are people with no religion (people meeting monthly since 2008), in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary.

To the Constitutional Convention

Making the Constitution of Ireland secular

Reason to make this Submission to the Convention

The Convention has already considered issues outside the list that the Government set. Accordingly the Mid West Humanists propose changes to make the Constitution secular, in addition to their proposal to delete the criminalisation of blasphemy.

Continue reading

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

I’m Sick of Being Polite About Religion

They were walking to school in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, a group of teenage girls discussing a test they had coming up, when two men on a motorcycle sprayed them with a strange liquid. Within seconds a painful tingling began, and there was an unusual smell as the skin of 16-year-old Atifa Biba began to burn.

Her friend rushed over to help her, struggling to wipe the liquid away, when she too was showered with acid. She covered her face, crying out for help as they sprayed her again, trying to aim the acid into her face. The weapon was a water bottle containing battery acid; the result was at least one girl blinded and two others permanently disfigured. Their only crime was attending school.

The next time someone uses the phrase “militant Atheist” remind them of this picture

Girl burned with acid

Girl burned with acid


This is what “militant Theists” do, today, in the 21st Century!

from The Guardian via Butterflies and Wheels.

Those all important first impressions…

As one of the new contributors that Jason mentioned a few days ago, I feel as though it’s important that I start off my input to this blog with the kind of entry that gives the reader a feel for who I am and what’s important to me, while tying into the interests of a humanist in the mid-western area.

The following is largely plagarised from my personal blog, an entry called ‘Saints and Shitters’.

Just over a year ago, I became aware of a uniquely grass roots approach to religious proselytizing, one that can be found in a growing number of toilet cubicles up and down the country, and I’m still incredibly curious as to where they come from. Here’s the first example I found in a restaurant called ‘Mother Hubbard’s’ in Oranmore, facing the user as he sits upon the throne.

The Bible is the Word of God - A priest

"The Bible is the word of God - A priest"

I’m sure you’ve seen one of these before, such is their diffusion throughout the country, but how is this getting around so much? Are the priests of Ireland issued with a permanent marker upon graduation from their seminary? Do they believe that man is at his most philosophical whilst exercising his sphincter? Do they believe that  the thick olfactory fog of human fecal matter acts as a catalyst for profound metaphysical thought?

Initially I feared that I may have been missing the point somewhat – it’s very possible that such messages are the richly ironic fruit of graffiti-happy religion spoofers, and any comment on it is but an exposure of my ignorance on such matters. That said, with the passage of time, and the accumulation of evidence, I’m beginning to think this thing is bigger than I had first realised.

Believe it or not, a week after my stop in Oranmore, I was in a Subway (restaurant) on O’Connell St., Limerick, and I found the following in their bathroom:

The Bible is the word of God - A priest

"The Bible is the word of God - A priest"

The first thing that entered my mind was to blog about it and joke about ‘having the lab compare the hand-writing samples’, when I realised that they were a damn-sight similar. But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself (I won’t even make you scroll up!):

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

Just try and convince me that these two don’t look incredibly similar. Look at the penmanship! Look at the way the sentence is formatted! I will be so bold as to say that these were definitely done by the same person.

I will be the first to admit that is is a staggering coincidence that I happened across two of these in the space of as many days, but I guarantee you that I am not responsible for either of them, in case you’re thinking I’m trying to slander the good name of the Jesus-pimping parishioners in our society.

The sightings on that fateful week weren’t the last, dear reader, as (parts 2 and 3 of this epic saga attest), and I’d wager there’s a great deal more instances of religiously motivated vandalism on this emerald isle to uncover, but I am just one man…

One man who recently got access to the readerbase of the Mid-West Humanists blog!

I’m hereby declare that this will be an official project of ours – if you spot a sample that matches the above, document it, report it, and it’ll be added to the list!

Maybe We Should Try Religion

via Atheist Media Blog

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Maybe We Should Try Religion“, posted with vodpod

The Names We Call Ourselves

When someone asks you what you are, in the context of religious views, how do you answer?

The options should appear in a random order to help eliminate any bias.

I know short answers rarely capture what people really believe so please feel free to expand on your answer in the comments.