The Irish Times today published this letter from Atheist Ireland.
Madam, – From September 1st, the Charities Act 2009 has been offering State protection to the Roman Catholic Church, and only this one church, to sell Mass cards (Home News, September 1st). The legality of this Act is being challenged in the High Court, but for a reason that turns ethics upside down.
It is not being challenged to prevent people from selling claims of intercession with the creator of the universe to bereaved and vulnerable people. Instead, it is being challenged to allow a wider number of people to sell such unverifiable claims.
Such thinking exists in the realm of magic and superstition. It is like last year’s special offer by the Pope that, if you visited Lourdes during 2008, you would get a free “plenary indulgence” which would get you early release from a place called Purgatory after you die, and get you sooner to another place called Heaven.
In any other field of regulation, it would be seen as fraudulent to persuade sick or bereaved people to part with money in return for prayers or plenary indulgences. And the underlying purpose of a Charities Act is surely to protect vulnerable people, not to exploit them.
Atheist Ireland is a new advocacy group for an ethical and secular Ireland, free from superstition and supernaturalism, where the State does not support or give special treatment to any religion.
– Yours, etc,