So, it’s the 21st Century and many of the things that were promised to us as kids have not yet come to pass. Flying cars? Nope. Entire meals in pill form? Afraid not. Robot butlers programmed to speak in haughty British accents that let us know exactly what they think of the meat-bags they work for? Not even close. All forgivable I suppose. There is, however, one thing that we really don’t have any excuse for not having. Secular governance.
Here in Ireland we have a Constitution that opens with a prayer specifically directed at ‘Our Lord, Jesus’ and ‘The Holy Trinity’ which goes on to declare (on behalf of all of it’s citizenry mind you) that; ”The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.” (Article 44.1) It then gives a rather lack-lustre attempt to appear equitable with this mealy-mouthed line; ”The State guarantees not to endow any religion.” (Article 44.2.2)
Now I’m sorry, but that is patent nonsense. First of all, when you go out of your way to acknowledge the asserted fact of a deity, you immediately disenfranchise all who disagree. This applies regardless of whether they place themselves into the category of atheist, agnostic or simply ‘not religious’. Secondly, when you go on to specifically make reference to God with a capital G, you are automatically endowing more recognition upon the monotheist’s faith than that of polytheists such as Hindus. Finally, when you open the foundational legal document of the State with a prayer exclusively directed at the Christian God you cannot then claim that you aren’t giving that religion special treatment or endowing it with additional State recognition.
It would be bad enough if it stopped there, but not content with simply snubbing a large proportion of the nation the framers of this document then go on to enshrine within its text oaths which preclude any honest or principled non-believer from ever becoming a Judge (Article 34.5.1) or the President (Article 12.8). It should also be noted that the Council of State, a body which advises the President on issues of proposed law’s constitutionality, also requires such an oath. Members of this council include ;
the Taoiseach, (Prime Minister)
the Tánaiste, (Dep. Prime Minister)
the Chief Justice,
the President of the High Court,
the Chairman of Dáil Éireann, (Parliament)
the Chairman of Seanad Éireann, (Senate)
and the Attorney General. (Article 31.2.i)
How can it be claimed that no religion is endowed by the State when the State requires all of it’s most high-ranking officials to take oaths in the presence of God? Until such time as all of these references are summarily removed from the Constitution, Ireland has no business calling itself a secular state.