Atheist Ireland on Sunday launched a campaign for a secular oath of office so that atheists taking such offices would not have to publicly contradict their beliefs. They have asked that there would be one single oath for all people, rather than a secular and a religious version. Currently, the office of President, judge, and Taoiseach, as well as members of the Council of State require the religious oath.
In 2013 six members of President Michael D Higgins’s Council of State called for the removal of religious elements from the oaths. In 2014 the UN Human Rights Committee called on the State to remove both the religious oaths for public office and the law on blasphemy.
Launching the new campaign, Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent said that the oath excludes conscientious atheists as candidates for offices such as the President.
In order to take office as a President, judge, or Taoiseach, he said atheists “would have to swear a religious oath that would force us to dissemble about our beliefs, and breach our human right to freedom of conscience and belief”.
“We want a referendum to replace these religiously discriminatory oaths in our Constitution, so that all citizens of our Republic can be treated equally regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs,” he said.
Such holders of public office “should instead make a single declaration of loyalty to the Irish Constitution, State, and people that does not reveal anything about the person’s religious or nonreligious beliefs”, he said.