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Tag Archives: religion

God and the census

How questions are phrased in a survey is important, as any market researcher or social scientist will tell you. And appearing early on a list matters too. One Irish TD even went to court a few years ago to argue that when arranging names in alphabetical order, the returning officer should ignore the Ó at […]

Controversial religion questions on student teacher exam

I sent in this article to several newspapers last week, but none published it. So I’m publishing it here for the record. A sample examination test for trainee primary teachers taking religion as a subject includes questions which require the student to agree that ‘atheist humanism produced the worst horrors history has ever witnessed.’ Another […]

Counting heads

CountMeOut, a website which allows people to formally defect from the Catholic Church, had suspended its website. The reason given is that the Catholic church has changed the rules, so it is no longer possible to leave. According to CountMeOut, about 1000 people in Dublin alone went gone through the formal defection process last year. […]

News talk

Yesterday, the news cycle covered Conor Lenihan’s proposed launch of a book on creationism. The science minister began by defending the gig as a favour to a friend, then the story went away when the invitation was withdrawn. This afternoon Sean Moncrieff interviewed the author, John J May. Among the tweets in response to the […]

In the beginning was the word

There was a time when book burning mattered. Once upon a time, religions enforced dictates by burning books containing the wrong opinions. To be orthodox was, literally, to hold the right opinion. And just in case that didn’t work, heretics were burned at the stake for good measure. At the end of the medieval era, […]

Hairetikos

So I’ve got some unleavened bread here. To some people, it’s just a piece of flour, mixed with water and heated. And to some people, it’s the body of a god, sacred beyond imagining. Plain unraised bread, made without yeast or other raising agent, is ‘unleavened’. A few years ago, a Florida student called Webster […]

Cranberry sauce

Have a look around, and you’ll find plenty of calls to jail senior catholic churchmen for their roles in obstructing the course of justice. There’s even been a misreported story that Richard Dawkins wants to arrest the pope. In that light, it’s worth noting that it’s only this month that Vatican has said for the […]

Open the books

A Garda who investigated one of the most notorious clerical child abusers in Ireland has called on the Catholic church to “open its books” about child sexual abuse. Retired Garda Martin Ridge was a key player in the investigation which led to the conviction and jailing of Fr Eugene Greene for twelve years in April […]

Section 35

‘The common law offences of defamatory libel, seditious libel and obscene libel are abolished.’ That’s the entirety of section 35 of the Defamation Act 2009, signed into law by the president, Mary McAleese, last Thursday. The next two sections are devoted to blasphemy. Blasphemy, you may remember, was included in the bill at the last […]

Why opposing the blasphemy law is pointless

As is my habit, I stopped in a local store on the way home this evening to pick up a few essentials – milk, a bottle of orange juice to slake the thirst from the Summer heat, you know the drill. As I queued to pay at the checkout, I read the signs on the […]