Atheists label Rising rebels ‘undemocratic killers’

Group says commemoration on Easter Sunday reinforces ‘religious connotations’

The group says the Irish Government is reinforcing the religious connotations of the Rising by marking its anniversary on the “wrong” date.

The group says the Irish Government is reinforcing the religious connotations of the Rising by marking its anniversary on the “wrong” date.

 

Atheist leaders declined an invitation to take part in yesterday’s Easter Rising commemorations because the rebellion involved “an undemocratic group killing innocent people”.

In a statement, Atheist Ireland, which claims to have about 500 members, said it welcomed the Government’s intention to be inclusive to all religious and non-religious groups, but that the State was reinforcing the rebellion’s “religious connotations” by holding the celebrations on Easter Sunday.

“The 1916 Rising involved an undemocratic group killing innocent people, based on a Proclamation whose authors claimed that Ireland was acting through them in the name of God,” said Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent.

“The Irish Government is reinforcing the religious connotations of the Rising by marking its anniversary on the wrong date . . . The reason for using the wrong date is to make the commemorations coincide with the Christian holiday of Easter.”

The starting date of the 1916 Rising was April 24th, when Easter Monday fell that year. The State’s commemoration ceremonies are held each Easter Sunday which changes date every year based on a lunar calendar.

The week-long conflict resulted in the deaths of 485 people, many of whom were civilians and children.

Religious Constitution

Mr Nugent said that, 100 years on from the Rising, overt religious references remained in the Constitution, and Presidents, judges and Taoisigh still had to swear a religious oath before entering office.

Atheist Ireland describes itself as an advocacy group which promotes atheism and “reason over superstition and supernaturalism”. It calls for a secular society with no preferential treatment for religious groups.

Mr Nugent said members of the organisation were free to celebrate or refrain from celebrating the occasion as they wished, and that he respected the Government’s right to commemorate the Rising.