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Dawkins urges constitutional reform to remove church role

FREEDOM OF expression and of religion “should be limited only by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of others”, according to the Dublin Declaration on Secularism and the Place of Religion in Public Life, adopted unanimously at the World Atheist Convention yesterday.

The declaration also states that “the sovereignty of the State is derived from the people and not from any God or gods”.

Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, well-known atheist Prof Richard Dawkins said the Irish Constitution should be reformed to “remove all influence of the Roman Catholic Church and all other churches . . . incorporating tolerance for all religions”.

Referring to the oath that must be taken by Irish presidents and judges, he said they might as well take an oath “to Zeus or Thor” as to God.

He “rejoiced” at the growth of secularism in Ireland and when he read the papers “about the pathetically diminished number of priests”.

He hoped the churches would “wither away”, describing the Catholic Church as “an evil institution . . . by far the worst where the churches are concerned”.

The three-day convention also launched Atheists Alliance International, a newly restructured umbrella group for atheists worldwide, whose first chairwoman is Tanya Smith of the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

Keynote speakers included Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, American science blogger PZ Myers and Iranian activist Maryam Namazie, of the British Council of Ex-Muslims.
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