Irish Times and RTE report on Atheist Ireland review of State Religious Education course

Michael Jane AI Report

The Irish Times and RTE have reported on yesterday’s launch of Atheist Ireland’s review of the State Religious Education curriculum in second level schools.

Extracts from The Irish Times report on the launch:

Students are being forced to study religion, group claims
By Carl O’Brien

Many students in secondary schools are being forced to study religious education despite rules which state it is an optional subject, it has been claimed.

Religious education was introduced to the curriculum for secondary schools in 2000 to allow students to learn about a range of faiths and beliefs. However, Atheist Ireland has gathered evidence which it says shows that many second-level schools are teaching religious education on a compulsory basis. It claims that many of these schools are merging this State course with their own faith formation classes

John Hamill, of Atheist Ireland, said schools have placed a series of barriers in the way of students who wish to opt out of the subject. “It’s easier to opt out of purgatory than it is to opt out of religion at second-level,” Mr Hamill said. “Secular parents and those of minority faiths are being forced to have their children subject to Catholic faith formation as part of this State course.”

Jane Donnelly, of Atheist Ireland, said the course discriminates against secular and minority faith families and called on the Minister for Education to issue a circular to schools advising them that the State’s religious education subject is not compulsory. She said students should be given the option of choosing another subject instead of religious education.

Extracts from the RTE report on the launch:

Call for State to help students who want to opt out of religion
By Emma O’Kelly

Secularist organisation Atheist Ireland has called on the Department of Education to ensure that second-level students are able to exercise their right to opt out of Religious Education should they wish to. Atheist Ireland says it also wants to remind parents, over the summer months, of their legal right to have their child opted out of the subject. The body has asked the department to issue instructions to schools to ensure that Religious Education is timetabled in such a way as to give students real choice.

The Constitution gives parents the right to withdraw their children from religious instruction. However the subject is timetabled as a core subject in all schools, just like English or Maths, with no alternative offered. Atheist Ireland says Religious Education should be treated as other optional subjects such as Home Economics or Accounting are; and timetabled in a way that provides students with real options.

Atheist Ireland’s Jane Donnelly said the RE curriculum itself also discriminated against non-religious children. She said documents received by the organisation in a Freedom of Information request showed that while the country’s Catholic and other main Christian churches had a significant input into the design of the programme, no other religious or non-religious organisations had been invited or allowed to participate, despite requests from several of those organisations.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m amazed that this still remain such an issue. France sorted this out in 1904/1905. The major religions are happy with the current arrangements and don’t agitate for change.

    “République” is an incredibly strong concept here.

    As amazed as I am that the matter is still under discussion in the RoI, I am impressed at the fortitude of AI in fighting it.

  2. For “crurent” read “current;

    For “agitateur” read “agitate”;

    For “for titube” read “fortitude”.

    I’ll leave the “thé” alone.

  3. Thanks for correcting my typos, Michael.

    I’m not sure that I’m fully aligned with everything that AI is about but I am utterly behind what you are doing regarding schools. Mail me and I will throw some money in that pot.

  4. Michael,
    I was merely giving you a heads up, as you are an ethic moral man you are aware that the unauthorized use of a copyright image is illegal.

  5. Michael,
    Yes this is true you used Bishop O’Reilly’s words, however I was pointing out the picture has copyright too and taken from a website is run by the Bishops office. Atheist Ireland didn’t reference where the image was from. You where not criticising his image but his words (which you did reference under Fair Usage) I don’t know if fair usage extends to cover the use of the image.

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