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The Irish Council of Churches says blasphemy reference in Constitution is 'largely obsolete'

They said the blasphemy reference has been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world.


THE IRISH COUNCIL of Churches said they acknowledge that the current reference to blasphemy in the Constitution of Ireland is “largely obsolete”.

They said today that the blasphemy reference “may give rise to concern because of the way such measures have been used to justify violence and oppression against minorities in other parts of the world”.

The Constitutional Convention will spend the next two days debating whether or not the blasphemy provision should be removed.


The Irish Constitution explicitly states that blasphemy – speaking sacrilegiously about God –  should be a crime, although no-one has ever actually been prosecuted under it. Article 40.6.1.i states:

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

The Irish Council of Churches, founded in 1923 in the aftermath of the Civil War is the formal national body that represents the following churches:

  • Antiochian Orthodox Church
  • Church of Ireland
  • Cherubim and Seraphim
  • Greek Orthodox Church
  • Lutheran Church in Ireland
  • Methodist Church in Ireland
  • Moravian Church (Irish District)
  • Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church
  • Romanian Orthodox Church
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Religious Society of Friends
  • Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Roman Catholic Church in Ireland
  • Russian Orthodox Church
  • Salvation Army (Ireland Division)

In a statement today, the body said that ahead of the Convention, their members had been reflecting on the values and principles that “should underpin the human right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in a truly inclusive, pluralist Ireland”.

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Freedom of Religion

They added the promotion of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience enriches the social fabric of a country, adding that it is a human right of faith communities to contribute to public life, including public debate on issues that are of importance to everyone, without being subjected to attack or ridicule, needs to be acknowledged and respected.

They stated:

We consider that it is vital to ensure that the rights of individuals and communities to practice and live out their faith openly are protected by law.  These guarantees may be better achieved through established or new constitutional and legislative provisions for the protection for freedom of religion, belief and expression, as well as legislation against discrimination and hate crimes.

Read: Blasphemy! Convention to consider taking religious offence rule out of Constitution>

Read: Constitutional Convention wants you say on its final phase >

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