The state Religious Education course developed by the NCCA is not objective, and it disrespects the rights of atheists and humanists.
The course was recently updated and introduced into second-level schools in September 2019. Despite superficial changes, the updated version is no better than the previous one.
It is not an objective course about religions, beliefs and ethics. It is not confined to teaching about religions and beliefs. The aim and rationale of the course are quite clear in stating this.
The main aim of the course is to develop attitudes and values so that students will reflect on the significance of religion to their lives.
Any teaching that motivates ideals or standards of behaviour while reflecting on the significance of religion to life disrespects the rights of atheists and humanists to ensure that the teaching of their children is in conformity with their convictions.
The aim and rationale of the course do not treat atheistic convictions equally with religious convictions.
The course teaches our children about the relevance of religion to their lives, but not about the relevance of atheism to their lives. The course goes way beyond teaching about religions and beliefs in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.
The course teaches our children about different understandings of the ‘Divine’ as if the existence of the ‘Divine’ was an uncontested fact. The ‘Divine’ is defined as “the various ways in which the world’s major religions refer to God/gods/the Transcendent.
The course teaches our children to respect beliefs, whereas we typically teach our children to challenge beliefs. Teaching children to respect beliefs undermines the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of religion and belief.
People have a right to hold beliefs as that is part of the right to freedom of religion and belief and any objective course about religions and beliefs must teach this. However, teaching children to respect beliefs is formational and its purpose is to undermine the right to be openly critical about certain beliefs and campaign against them.
Many religious beliefs are harmful and individuals have the right to criticise these beliefs. Why does the state want to teach children to respect beliefs that their families see as harmful?
The NCCA Religious education course breaches the Constitutional and Human Rights of atheists and humanists, and you have a Constitutional and Human Right to ensure that your child does not attend this teaching.
Atheist Ireland continues to lobby to ensure that the State respects these rights.