No baptism, no school for Reuben, 4

No baptism, no school for Reuben, 4

Earlier this month, the Sunday Times reported on the plight of the mother of a four-year-old boy in south Dublin whose son had been refused a place at a number of local primary schools because he has not been baptised.

Nikki Murphy, pictured above with her older son Reuben, had applied to 13 schools for the four-year-old, but was turned down by nine because he is not a Catholic or a member of any other religious group. Another four schools, with a multi-denominational ethos, said that they were already oversubscribed.

About 90 percent of Irish primary schools are under Catholic patronage, and are permitted by law to prioritise the enrolment of Catholic children if they are oversubscribed. Unbaptised children can be placed at the bottom of the list, due to section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act.

The story was picked up yesterday by National Public Radio (NPR) in America,  which pointed out that in the US, parents who want to give their children a religious education have to pay for it for the most part.

In Ireland, it’s the opposite – 92 percent of state schools are run by the Catholic Church. That’s even though growing numbers of people in Ireland no longer identify as Catholic. And this is creating new tensions for parents trying to find schools for their kids.

Ireland’s Education Minister, Jan O’Sullivan, told the programme:

First of all, we’ve inherited a constitution which provides for religious denominations to protect their ethos. So we’re constrained by that in terms of what we can do in education … lot of that is determined by ownership, and the Catholic Church in particular own many of the schools – the majority of the schools in fact.

Interviewer Miranda Kennedy said:

The experience is making Nikki and Clem rethink whether they want to send Reuben to a Catholic school at all. Clem says his own Catholic education doesn’t sit well with them.

Clem Brennan explained:

I feel that illusion was forced on me and that’s why I feel so strongly about this. I’m just not going to do that to the boys.

A generation ago, there wasn’t much of a call for non-religious schools in Ireland, but since then, many people have turned against the Catholic Church in the wake of horrifying revelations about priest-child abuse and its cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy.

Parents with children in Catholic schools can request that they be pulled out of the religious portion of the school day, but that doesn’t mean that they will be taught during that time.

Paul Rowe is with the organisation Educate Together, which runs some non-religious schools in Ireland. He said:

There is no legal right to any alternative programme. In most schools, there’s no place for the children to go. They sit in the corridor or they go to the principal’s office and they just sit there. They are marginalized in the educational environment.

Nikki and Clem recently launched a campaign to open a secular school in their neighborhood. Nikki knows she could still get Reuben into the Catholic school if she baptised him, but she feels that she’d be lying. Nikki asked

What kind of message is that giving Reuben? It goes against my conscience to do it …

Nikki is hoping that the campaign to open a non-Catholic school in her neighborhood will succeed and that will save her from having to go through it all again for her younger son.

21 responses to “No baptism, no school for Reuben, 4”

  1. L.Long says:

    Perfect example of a church acting really stupid!
    Here is a young potential victim they could brain wash but push him away cuz his parents are not brainwashed!

  2. Broga says:

    The fetid RC religion, infested with paedophile priests whom it protects, turns away from a young child. The hypocrisy of this criminal organisation stuns. Those who run the RC Church have no shame, no decency and no kindness even to the young.

    I can imagine the discussion amongst these superstitious, religious bigots as the exercised their self righteousness in coming to a decision.

    And yet David “I do religion” Cameron, and others of his crew support faith schools with our taxes.

  3. lucy1 says:

    I hate the idea that the potential new school would be known as a ‘non catholic’ school. Catholic should not be the default. It would just be a school, FFS.

  4. Barry Duke says:

    The religiots appear to have stumbled upon Barbara Smoker’s “My Path from Rome” (

    Sample from on C. Flynn: “So what did Barbara do for the rest of her life after she became an atheist? Significantly she does not say. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. All of the atheists I have known or read about have had lives dogged by mental illness, failed relationships and addictions.”

  5. dennis says:

    and in the states this kind of idiocy is evangelizing into my public school.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Is this not state sponsored discrimination? Imagine the furore if a religious child were refused entry to a secular school [this never happens] that ghastly Minichiello Williams would be shrieking her usual Wolf cry of persecution. As Broga alludes to above, this is going to get worse as Cameron wants more schools to become academies and the various religions see this as an opportunity to run them.

  7. Jeff says:

    Surely this is in violation of Article 2 of the first Protocol to the ECHR which states “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such
    education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and
    philosophical convictions.”

  8. AgentCormac says:

    Spot on.

  9. AgentCormac says:

    As Mr Duke has suggested, there seems to be a gathering of the deluded over at Feel free to join in.

  10. Dave Godfrey says:

    Is this sort of crap really happening in the 21st Century?

  11. Laura Roberts says:

    “Unbaptised children can be placed at the bottom of the list, due to section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act.” So the so-called “Equal Status Act” has an explicit provision that permits discrimination? Orwell couldn’t have written it better. Sounds like Bush’s “Blue Skies Initiative” that reopened the doors for air pollution in the U.S.

  12. Lurker111 says:

    @Laura Roberts:

    Yes, when I read, “the Equal Status Act,” I thought, “Newspeak much?”

    And what is this business of getting kids into school at 4? I first went to school at age 6, to first grade. Never hurt me. What _is_ this shit? Or is it just a way to get child care? “Enquiring minds want to know.”

  13. Dot says:

    The Irish were suckered by the rcc for centuries. Now people can clearly see through the pious disguise of this most disgusting institutionalised crime cartel they should change the constitution change the law and cast the rcc out. Then I will have some respect for a country that has some respect for its own children. The rcc is an evil abomination, it’s cardinals are accessories to the crimes, it’s priests its thugs and its nuns are wicked lying harridans. Cast out the godly mafia and free your country.

  14. Stuart H. says:

    This nonsense happens in every country I know where the state has let the church ‘help’ with education to save money (and ended up spending at least as much, but handing it to the church to build and run schools in which the state cannot intervene).

    It is a prize example of why Cameron needs to stop the academy programme (or at least ensure religious schools are never allowed in deprived areas and an absolute last resort anywhere else). What is the betting he doesn’t, and that we see scenarios like this in the UK within a year or two?

  15. Laura Roberts says:

    @Lurker111: I started school at about 4 back in the 1960’s — preschool at 4, kindergarten at 5 and first grade at 6. Preschool was real school, too, if my dim memory is accurate — I remember doing exercises in books related to vocabulary/reading skills.

  16. David Anderson says:

    “Unbaptised children can be placed at the bottom of the list, due to section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act.”

    Some people (godbots) seem to have a contorted definition of “Equal Status”.

  17. jay says:

    I woked for a number of years with a Hindu woman who had gone to Catholic schools in India. Sounds like different rules for different places.

  18. Lurker111 says:


    Thanks for the reply. I guess things are just different depending on where you are. I’m glad it worked for you. I went to kindergarten one day, I think, before I had to be pulled to get my appendix out. :/

  19. Newspaniard says:

    Some readers seem to forget, this is IRELAND where the people still vote terrorists and murderers into their parliament. One multiple murderer was recently put forward as a candidate for their presidency. When Ireland becomes civilized, then, maybe they will respect the civil rights of the child.

  20. Cali Ron says:

    @Newspaniard: They are still getting over the social, economic, religious and political damage that British rule left them. They obviously have a long way to go, but then from what I see on this site England isn’t that much more “civilized” than they are. By terrorists and murderers are you referring to those who fought for freedom from England? One persons terrorists is another persons freedom fighter.