In April 2009, the Irish Justice Minister announced a proposed new crime of blasphemy. This revives an old crime of blasphemy that the Supreme Court found to be unenforceable.

This website is published by Atheist Ireland as part of our campaign against this proposed new law. It includes analysis and news items about blasphemy and free speech, and examples of material that could be illegal in Ireland under the 2009 blasphemy law and the campaign for the referendum to have it repealed in 2015.

Atheist Ireland is an advocacy group that promotes reason and atheism over superstition and supernaturalism, and that campaigns for an ethical and secular Ireland where state does not support or fund or give special treatment to any religion.

The committee of Atheist Ireland are:Elected committee members

Chairperson – Michael Nugent, chair@atheist.ie

Secretary – Helen O’Shea, secretary@atheist.ie

Finance – Sean O’Shea, finance@atheist.ie

Regional – Ashling O’Brien, regional@atheist.ie

Co-opted committee members are:

Human Rights – Jane Donnelly humanrights@atheist.ie

Secular Sunday – Derek Walsh secularsunday@atheist.ie

Membership – Kelvin O’Connor membership@atheist.ie

Ashling O’Brien – committee@atheist.ie

Andrew Doyle – seo@atheist.ie

Regional Groups

cavanmonaghan@atheist.ie – John Hamill

dublin@atheist.ie – Ashling O’Brien

meath@atheist.ie – Emmett Vaughan

kerry@atheist.ie – Peter Hinchcliffe

Please leave a comment below if you want us to contact you with any further information, or if you want to help in any way with the campaign.

16 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Luke Daly August 20, 2009

    It’s good to see there’s some sort of movement against this ridiculous law. If you could let me know if there’s any way I could give a hand, it’d be much appreciated. Otherwise, well, I’ll wait until they try to get a conviction under the blasphemy bill. Then the picket signs’ll be coming up. *laughs*

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Dave McKenna August 21, 2009

    Would be only too glad to help combat this idiocy, drop me a line!

    – Dave

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Jens October 04, 2009

    I definitely believe that the Blasphemy Law would be a step into the completely wrong direction. If I can help, I will.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Mike W January 03, 2010

    Keep fighting, friends.

    If you guys have 30 seconds of audio or video stating your case I’d like to add it to a YouTube project I started tonight called “30 Seconds of Blasphemy”.

    I don’t have any traffic on it yet, but I’ll put the site in a list of atheist links 🙂

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Rafiq Mahmood January 03, 2010

    Personally I don’t think you are going to be able to challenge the law by throwing your 25 blasphemous bombshells at it. The Irish authorities will just not think there is a case against them, and if there is it would not be public policy to pursue it.

    First, these quotations are already in the public domain and were made by their various authors before the coming into effect of the Act. Legislation is not, except in very special and specified circumstances, retroactive. The defence of reasonable value is so self-evident, since most of them fall well within the categories mentioned in the Act, that it would be a frivolous waste of public expense to attempt a prosecution that was bound to fail at the slightest resistance by the putative defendants.

    There is another line of approach that I would take. There is another “defence”. According to the Act:

    36.(4) In this section “religion” does not include an organisation or cult—
    (a) the principal object of which is the making of profit, or
    (b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—
    (i) of its followers, or
    (ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.

    What I would do is to attack just one religion and three aspects of it. I would focus on Islam because it is the most virulent and dangerous religion in the world today. I also suspect that it is because of pressure from Muslim sources to have a blasphemy law applicable to all religions that this piece of nonsense was introduced.

    I would say that without a belief in the afterlife there would be no suicide bombers. That the religious divide that spawned Pakistan and India is the most likely spark of any future nuclear annihilation. That a belief in a better world to come defeats any attempt at cultivating risk awareness and is allowing thousands of people to die unnecessarily because they believe their fate is in Allah’s hands and is similarly allowing the forests of Indonesia to burn. I would say these things because it is my firm and deliberate intention to cause outrage because the religion which so manipulates their minds is outrageous itself. Unless the adherents stir out of their stupor this planet is on a rapid countdown to extinction. I would make it absolutely clear that if indicted I would intend to call no evidence in my defence that what I say or publish has any value under any category.

    What I would claim in my defence is that Islam is not a religion as defined by the Defamation Act 2009 because it employs oppressive psychological manipulation of its followers. I would adduce evidence about how children are educated in madrassas and pasenterens. I would adduce evidence about the way women are made to feel ashamed of their bodies. I would adduce evidence about the effects of standing in rows for long periods of time and continuous repetition of chants.

    This is not just a silly and purposeless piece of legislation just to fill an outdated constitutional hole. It is dangerous. Ireland is ill-advisedly trying to keep a low and sycophantic profile while its brave European brothers in Denmark have to face the torches in their embassies and mad axemen attacking their cartoonists in their homes.

    It won’t work. Just one case would pull this piece of nonsense to bits – and the crowds would be milling and screaming outside Irish embassies too.

    I am an Irish citizen but I am living far away in Indonesia so it is difficult for me to do what I suggest – although given the opportunity I would. I relish the thought of appearing in an Irish court on such a charge. The prospect of appearing in an Indonesian court (where less circumscribed laws prevail) is, I admit, somewhat less appealing.

    I have written to my embassy, however. Anything else I can do, please let me know.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Jennifer Mitchell January 03, 2010

    If there are any online petitions, addresses to send letters to, anything to support the campaign to get this medieval law revoked please, please, please say! I am disgusted that this is law and terrified of the consequences should other countries follow suit.

    Reply
  7. Avatar
    AuBricker January 03, 2010

    You have my best wishes in combating law. I am currently writing a blog on your problem, and am repeating some of your statements. Unfortunately, my blog has about five readers and there are largely old military chums, but I will spread word of this unjust law as far as possible in the US.

    Reply
  8. Avatar
    Dr. Grabham Young January 03, 2010

    We at The Church of the Simply Divine are a very fundamental religion. That is to say we revere the Great Spiritual Fundament: our one and only one tenet. We believe – okay, let’s be perfectly accurate, we KNOW – you can only approach Divinity through a Same-Sex Mindset.

    And so it followeth, as the Night the Day, that every homosexual IS AT BIRTH a Member and a Minister in our church – whether they like it or not – and anything and everything that queer does with regard to his/her sexuality is a bona fide religious act!

    Well, you can imagine that we are THRILLED by the Irish Parliament’s decision to return to the good old days of punishing blasphemy. Given our ONE tenet, we obviously consider BLASPHEMOUS TO THE EXTREME any statements made by anyone disparaging gays or lesbians (bisexuals, however, *can* be disparaged, but only half the time and only with regard to their damnable heterosexual urges).

    We are in the process of informing the Irish Government that we expect FULL AND IMMEDIATE ENFORCEMENT from them regarding blasphemies against our one and only sacred tenet. As we have only ONE tenet, it will naturally make enforcement of blasphemies against us far simpler to process than those of other religions which have very long and sometimes quite unintelligible lists of possible blasphemies.

    WE WOULD APPRECIATE ANY HELP YOU CAN AFFORD US TO MAKE SURE THAT BLASPHEMERS AGAINST US ARE THOROUGHLY (AND EXPENSIVELY) PUNISHED FOR THEIR SINS.

    Unless, of course, you’re too busy repealing the law. Still, while it’s in force, let’s do some good, yes?

    Reply
  9. Avatar
    davidmww January 04, 2010

    Congratulations on your blasphemy statement. There’s something there for everyone!

    What are your plans if, as is possible, nobody rises to your bait, and the law remains untested in court? Have you thought of publishing a monthly or bi-monthly journal containing new blasphemous material in every issue?

    “The Irish Blasphemer” (or something like that) could contain articles, stories, poems and cartoons all designed to challenge the blasphemy law – repeatedly, creatively, and humorously. It would be published both on the internet (on a server in Ireland), and in print. The print version could be distributed by paid subscription for a small fee, and also via sympathetic retail outlets such as independent bookshops, cafes, and pubs.

    There is a lot of support for your cause throughout the world, so I’m sure there would be no shortage of quality contributions to choose from.

    I am the web editor of The Freethinker magazine in the UK. I’d be happy to help out in any way with a project such as this. Email me if you are interested.

    Reply
  10. Avatar
    Richard Frederick January 11, 2010

    I am stunned to find that the website has no link to the Tom Wait’s song “Chocolate Jesus”. No atheist’s education is complete without these wonderful blues… …humour is the deadliest weapon.

    Link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5kHx1itU8c

    Lyrics:

    Chocolate Jesus

    Don’t go to church on Sunday
    Don’t get on my knees to pray
    Don’t memorize the books of the Bible
    I got my own special way
    I know Jesus loves me
    Maybe just a little bit more
    I fall down on my knees every Sunday
    At Zerelda Lee’s candy store
    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied
    Well I don’t want no Abba Zabba
    Don’t want no Almond Joy
    There ain’t nothing better
    Suitable for this boy
    Well it’s the only thing
    That can pick me up
    Better than a cup of gold
    See only a chocolate Jesus
    Can satisfy my soul
    (Solo)
    When the weather gets rough
    And it’s whiskey in the shade
    It’s best to wrap your savior
    Up in cellophane
    He flows like the big muddy
    But that’s ok
    Pour him over ice cream
    For a nice parfait
    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me
    Well it’s got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied

    Reply
  11. Avatar
    Paul Glennon January 12, 2010

    Just saw the piece on RTE’s Prime Time. We must have this law removed. What to do?

    Reply
  12. Avatar
    Keith Hopper January 22, 2010

    Although I live in England, I would very much like to help the campaign in any way I can.

    A question: under the terms of the new Act, would, for instance, James Joyce’s Ulysses be considered blasphemous? If so, would it be worthwhile submitting it to the Irish Censorship Board as a test case? Or would it be simply considered, as Rafiq Mahmood has suggested in his excellent posting on this page, ‘a frivolous waste of public expense to attempt a prosecution that was bound to fail at the slightest resistance by the putative defendants’? What is the current legal advice on this?

    Reply
  13. Avatar
    Hubie D June 29, 2010

    Hello,

    I am keen to join your official campaign against the intellectual terrorism of censorship, especially in its base form of the protection of theocratic bullies. Please contact me with information re petitions & protests, or anything else of interest.

    Regards,

    Hubie

    Reply
  14. Avatar
    Feardorcha June 14, 2011

    The Government today announced three referendums, but not the one to remove the anti-blasphemy law that was promised during the election.
    We better get the campaign up and running again.

    Reply
  15. Avatar
    Timmy Flaherty January 04, 2016

    Governments don’t have to have this law. This is so much higher than human laws. Its about the relationship people have with God. And if people become blasphemous, then its up to other people in society to explain, in a sound, logical and calm way, of the serious risk they’re taking by insulting God.
    If God exists, and billions believe so, then atheism and blasphemy are the absolute worst and most dangerous things a human can engage in. And it’s probably Satan who’s egging them on.
    Come back to God, repent for your sins. God’s capacity for forgiveness is always greater than the sin. Tis called Divine Mercy.

    I’m gonna say a prayer for these sinners’ souls. Bless em.

    Reply

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