Press Releases

Press release from The Iona Institute

Tanaiste’s speech an attack on religious freedom

July 1, 2012 IN HIS speech at the Tom Johnson Summer School today Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore spoke at some length about religious freedom but the speech in fact amounted to an attack on religious freedom.

It revealed that by Church/State separation Mr Gilmore means something closer to the privatisation of religion and by religious freedom he mostly means freedom from religion.

Commenting on the speech, Dr John Murray of The Iona Institute said today: “Religious freedom has to include the freedom to fully participate in the public and political life of the country as religious believers. It does not mean that religious believers must put their religion to one side when they enter the public square. That is the opposite of religious freedom.”

He continued: “It is good that the Tanaiste recognises the contribution of religion to society, but religious freedom means very little if religious believers are barred from being able to persuade their law-makers and fellow voters by democratic means of the value to society and the law of their beliefs.

“Why should religious believers alone of all citizens be barred from influencing the laws of our country with their values, as the Tanaiste seems to imply when he speaks of 'Church/State separation'? This amounts to the privatisation of religious belief and a truncation of religious freedom.”

Dr Murray said: “It must also be borne in mind that most religious values can be defended using reason alone. For example, the traditional definition of marriage can be defended without any reference to religion at all.

“The reason it would be wrong to permit same-sex marriage is because doing so is a denial of the importance of sexual complementarity and of the need of a child for a mother and a father.”

He concluded: “The Tanaiste has in fact outlined a very secular view of society, one which most religious believers will strongly reject.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Iona Institute is a pro-marriage, pro-religion think tank.