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Under Ireland’s theorcratic constitution, it seems ignorance is bliss, argues our Irish columnist Gearóid Ó Colmáin

Last update - Thursday, May 7, 2009, 00:37 By Metro Éireann

“Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense,” wrote Robert Green Igersoll. But alas, superstition is now a legal obligation in holy Ireland – and atheists ought to keep their mouths shut from now on, lest they be accused of blasphemy. Yes, according to new legislation, “a person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000”.

This is the hysteric action of a dull-witted government going through some form of existential crisis. But more worryingly, it is a shameless attack on our fundamental liberties to think and speak whatever we wish, and clearly violates Articles 7, 21,18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But from an Irish legal perspective, the new legislation is perfectly in accordance with our theocratic constitution, the document that provides the legal framework for the Republic of Ireland – a contradiction in terms if I’ve ever heard one.
Though this country is nominally a republic, the preamble to our constitution states that the legal articles to follow are “in the name of the Most Holy Trinity”. The authority of said legal articles is ipso facto determined by the three persons contained in the Judeo-Christian deity, “to whom, in the end, all actions both of men and states must be referred.” The use of the word ‘must’ clearly indicates that belief in God is legally binding and universal to all “men and states”.  It therefore enjoins other nations to take heed of divine law. Secular nations of the world, hear ye!
If you come from a republic or a more intellectually mature civilisation, you might think that this is some kind of elaborate joke. How can religion provide the basis for civil society, I hear you ask. To anyone of reasonable intelligence, the preamble to our constitution is nothing short of a thundering absurdity. It makes a mockery of the Irish State and is a flagrant violation of any laws worthy of the name ‘civil.’ 
The laws of a republic are brought about by the rational consensus determining the best interests of all the citizens of that polity, regardless of whether or not they believe in gods, spirits, goblins or other supernatural entities. The constitution of a republic can provide the conditions for the free practice of all religions, but cannot presuppose a theological interpretation of human nature.
The preamble to the Irish constitution not only legalises religious belief, it clearly favours one form of this psychological delusion, namely Christianity. Muslims, Jews, Hindus and all the rest are therefore legally bound to the laws of the Christian deity in their Irish manifestation. As for atheists, they obviously have no constitutional status. In fact it is questionable if they have any rights at all under the Irish constitution. If the laws of the land are subject to the laws of God and atheists reject the latter, are they not in contempt of the constitution? Is it illegal to be an atheist in the Irish theocracy?
The veracity of people testifying in Irish courts is still determined by placing one’s hand on the Bible. So, if I am arraigned before an Irish court for a minor offence, the basis of my credibility hinges on my belief in one of humanity’s most incredible fables! You are therefore only believable if you are a believer. This kind of thing would be laughed at in other countries such as France or Germany. But France is a real republic. The French theocracy was overthrown in the Revolution of 1789.  The French constitution of 1791 opens eloquently with the declaration of the rights of man. There is no reference to the rights of God.  It begins by stating that ignorance and contempt for the rights of man are the sole causes of public misery and the corruption of governments.
And the moral of the story? For the French republic, ignorance is misery. But for the Irish theocracy, it seems ignorance is bliss. /

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