Irish Atheists, Muslims and Evangelicals jointly call for reform of State Religious Education course

Sec Alliance 5

As part of our unique inter-belief alliance for secularism, Atheist Ireland, Irish Ahmadiyya Muslims and Evangelical Alliance of Ireland today jointly called for end to religious discrimination in Irish second level schools. The call was made at the launch of a major new Atheist Ireland report on how the State Religious Education course breaches human and constitutional rights.

We each respect that we have very different world-views as atheists, Muslims and Evangelicals. We also agree that each person should be treated with respect, our right to hold our beliefs should be treated with respect, and the State should treat us all equally before the law by remaining neutral between religious and nonreligious beliefs. That is what a true Republic should looks like.

Statement by Michael Nugent, Chairperson, and
Jane Donnelly, Human Rights Officer, Atheist Ireland:

“The State second level Religious Education course disrespects the philosophical convictions of atheist, secular and minority faith families and, contrary to Article 42.1 of the Constitution, it discriminates against these families. State-funded Irish schools are illegally forcing children of atheist, secular and minority faith families, into Religious Instruction and Catholic faith formation, contrary to Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution, and several human rights treaties that Ireland has signed up to. 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.”

Statement by Imam Ibrahim Noonan,
Imam of Galway Ahmadiyya Mosque,
Missionary in charge of island of Ireland:

“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 on  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.”

Statement by Pastor Nick Park,
Executive Director, Evangelical Alliance of Ireland:

“As a Christian minister, I disagree with Atheist Ireland on many theological matters and issues of faith. Nevertheless, I congratulate them on wading through a copious amount of documents to produce this comprehensive report, demonstrating clearly the State’s failure to protect children from coercion and discrimination in the area of religious education.  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.”

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