Humanists Celebrate Ireland’s Vote for Religious Freedom
Sarah Henry, (202) 238-9088, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaders at the American Humanist Association are cheering Friday’s vote across Ireland that has resulted in a referendum against the country’s blasphemy law. These kinds of laws ban the expression of doubts or criticisms regarding a specific faith tradition and its symbols. The Irish blasphemy law was designed to protect the Anglican Church of Ireland from criticism. The last person convicted of blasphemy in the Republic of Ireland was Thomas Emelyn, who wrote and published a book questioning whether Jesus was equal to God. He was charged with blasphemy and sentenced to a year in prison. This year, 315 years since Emelyn’s sentencing, Irish voters have eliminated this obsolete and dangerous law.
Blasphemy laws in Western nations have long been used to justify oppression, violence, and even death in other parts of the world. Today’s vote to repeal sends a strong message that the people of Ireland will not stand for laws that are designed to harm. In Ireland today, humanist values prevailed.