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This exclusivist Christian ideology reflects the narrow authoritarian religious and political culture in which we live.While the majority of people, including Christians, are generally tolerant and open-minded, the public discourse is still dominated by an outmoded religious hegemony.In this article for Will & Testament, he explains why so many atheists in Northern Ireland have chosen to keep their heads down.Atheism is one of the last taboos, and Northern Ireland is similar to America in this respect.The oath reads (Article 12.8): "In the presence of Almighty God, I ...do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Ireland.This means that Northern Ireland can be a cold house for atheists, sceptics and humanists.
So there is no choice in the matter, even though 14% say they have no religion and non-Christian denominations are growing.
On this week's Sunday Sequence, Brian Mc Clinton, editor of Humanism Ireland, spoke about the experiences of atheists in Northern Ireland when they choose to reveal their philosophical perspective to family members, work colleagues and other sections of society.
Brian Mc Clinton says atheists have experienced discrimination and isolation, and have been ostracised by their families.
A constitutional convention is due to review the wording of the oath next year (along with other proposed reforms), and the new president has already signalled his support for a change to more inclusive terms.
But when he steps up to take the oath, Michael D will be asked to invite the help of a Being whose existence he privately question.