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Evangelicals, atheists and Muslims unite against Irish RE

Evangelicals, atheists and Muslims unite against Irish RE

The Evangelical Alliance of Ireland (EAI)  – headed by pastor Nick Park, above – has joined Atheist Ireland and Irish Ahmadiyya Muslims in calling for religious education reform that will allow pupils to choose another subject in its place.

According to this report, the EAI said it was seeking:

To protect children from coercion and discrimination in the area of religious education.

Around 85 per cent of Irish people say they are Catholics, and the group is concerned about school children being steered towards Catholicism via RE lessons.

Atheist Ireland’s chairman Michael Nugent said that the existing RE course in schools:

Disrespects the philosophical convictions of atheist, secular and minority faith families.

Park, the Executive Director of the Evangelical Alliance Ireland, added:

The Minister for Education should immediately issue a circular letter informing all schools at second level that the state religious education course is not compulsory and students can choose another subject, and schools should actively inform students and parents about this.

Park said that he disagreed with Atheist Ireland on many issues.

Nevertheless I congratulate them on wading through a copious amount of documents to produce a comprehensive report, demonstrating clearly the state’s failure to protect children from coercion and discrimination in the area of religious education.

The cover of AI's report. published this week. Click on pic to read

The cover of AI’s report. published this week. Click here to read,

Park added:

Parents from religious minorities, as well as parents of no religious belief, are being denied rights supposedly guaranteed to them and their children under the Irish Constitution and various human rights treaties. Most religions would hold that it is the responsibility of their members who are parents to provide religious instruction to their children, but religious formation and indoctrination should not be the business of the state or of state-funded schools. When the state acts in such a way it is bad for parents, bad for children, and ultimately bad for religion itself.

Imam Ibrahim Noonan, the Imam of Galway Ahmadiyya Mosque, stressed the need for separation between state and religion.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always adhered to the fact that religion and state are two different entities. Therefore it views that secular knowledge should be given eminence within the school curriculum. The state must recognise the importance of the feelings and sentiments of those who practise a particular faith or belief system, whether that be a religious system or non religious system.

What is important is that department of education recognise that no particular faith should have the monopoly in the schools, as the very question that can be asked is: which version of a particular religion is the correct one, and who will teach it? All that should be taught in state schools is the basic fundamentals of any faith system or non faith belief system is, including historical and morals, principles and ethics.

The call comes amid an ongoing debate about the role of religious education in Ireland.

In May, the Secretary General of the Department of Education, Seán Ó Foghlú, told the Association of Trustees of Catholic Schools that the community and comprehensive secondary schools under religious patronage were legally obliged to serve the entire community.

He warned:

The schools need to prepare for situations where a majority of students may wish to withdraw and where religious instruction and worship may be required by a minority, if at all.

10 responses to “Evangelicals, atheists and Muslims unite against Irish RE”

  1. L.Long says:

    Again showing why secular gov’mint is good. When one religion gets ahead then the other religions gang up on it. What I find is that not one of the other religions did not say that religious studies should be about studying various religions, could it me that all the religions are scared students will find when comparing them they are all BS!!??!!??

  2. Broga says:

    “……given by the risen Christ to the apostles.” Nope, he didn’t rise and he didn’t give it to the apostles. These are the usual sanctimonious and unfounded statements, pronounced as fact, to overawe the gullible sheep.

    Well done, Atheist Ireland.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    A bouquet instead of a boo this time. Nice when the world allows for good secular news.

  4. Matthew Carr says:

    Once again we have to wonder why an independently funded organization is required to point out to government the glaringly obvious.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Broga: And it’s an extremely dangerous assertion, because their precious Jesus is “God”, so obeying him means that all laws and other considerations MUST be put aside so that he can be obeyed. I had this verse drummed into me as a young Christian: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It engenders the kind of mindset that says, “I was only obeying orders”!

  6. Broga says:

    @barriejohn : And, of course, it is the preachers who decide what God wants to have obeyed. So convenient.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    Like all other religions, the xtian brand of superstition is based upon utterly ludcirous and transprently absurd assertions which have, for centuries, been presented as fact without any evidence whatsoever to back them up – just violence, intimidation and opression to ensure others adhere to the lies. Yet here we are in the 21st century, debating as if it were some kind of sensible, rational topic, whether our children should still be subjected to indoctrination in places of education. In places of eduction, FFS!!! The word shameful does not even enter into it.

  8. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac : As I look back I realise we didn’t try to teach our children that religion was to be believed or disbelieved nor did we stop them being in a religious class. We answered their questions and had discussions as they grew up. I didn’t read them bible stories but, even before they could read, they loved children’s versions of the Greek legends. They grew up as atheists and still are.

    My son’s best friend (which he still is) had very devout parents and he was brought up with what I now see was indoctrination. Despite that, in late teenage he was an atheist but when he tried to convey this to his parents his father was distressed and his mother became distraught. He stopped saying what he believed and passively went along with his parents.

    When he decided to marry he was determined not to marry in a religious service. His mother became distraught when she heard and she and his father made clear he was ruining their lives. His sister, a Christian, added to the pressure. He got married in church. My son was at the wedding.

    After the marriage he apologised for subjecting my son to all the nonsense. He was furious that he had succumbed. He vowed that any children would not be christened and they were not. His relationship with his parents has not been ended but it is far from warm.

    The pressure, the blackmail, exerted by religious parents, who know they must be right, is severe and in so many families they at least get lip service from those around them. And that is how the game is often played.

  9. RussellW says:

    Yes, at least some religiots understand, the only guarantee of religious freedom is the secular state.

    Broga,
    The Greek and Germanic myths contain insights into the material world and human psychology that are absent from the Judeo-Christian tradition. I can remember details of Greco -Roman myths but only fragments of Christian ideology despite a formal Christian education.
    Hollywood certainly understands their appeal to modern audiences.

  10. lucy1 says:

    re parental blackmail. An atheist Irish friend was sitting with his dying mother. She said she would die happy if he promised to get his children baptised. He replied that she had no right to say that. She thought for a minute and said that he was right. She died with an honest relationship with her son.How I wish that was more common.