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Ireland is also more secular than we thought

Grania Spingies, of Atheist Ireland, has contributed a short post about a European country that most of us see as religiously retrograde. It turns out that it’s far more secular than we thought.

Ireland may also be a lot more liberal and secular than some would have you believe

by Grania Spingies

Last week the Ipsos MORI polls conducted by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science revealed that the majority of self-defined Christians living in the UK tend to have more far more liberal and secular views than those promoted by Christian campaign groups. The reaction from those groups has been predictably both outraged and outrageous, but the message is fairly clear: the highly conservative values espoused by such lobbies do not reflect those of the Christian majority on whose behalf they claim to speak.

A recent government-sponsored poll shows very similar attitudes in Ireland. The poll is based on the Irish Referendum in 2011 (in Ireland the Constitution can be amended only by popular referendum), and was conducted by the Irish government for political reasons: to find out why people voted as they did. Unlike the Dawkins Foundation poll, then, this one was not conducted by a pro-secularist organization, and thus cannot be criticized on that count.

The poll shows that despite being a “Catholic” country (the 2006 Census put the proportion of Catholics above 86%) and in spite of Irish religious lobby groups insisting that the conservative status quo remains, it seems that a comfortable majority of Irish people do not take their cues about morality from the Church at all. In fact, an article in Thursday’s Irish Examiner by June McEnroe shows that the Irish overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage, and also do not support Ireland’s ill-conceived new Blasphemy Law.

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