Monday 22 April 2019

Catholic Bishops Admit Bible Class Disadvantages School Children

Richard Brunton, TD.
In Letter to Irish Government, Bishops Admitted Religion Makes Kids Dumber | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

In an astonishing letter to the then Irish Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD PDF, Catholic bishops have unwittingly revealed that even they regard religious education as detrimental to the children being subjected to it.

The letter, which had never been made public, came to light by chance when Seamus and John from The Free Thought Prophet Podcast were researching for a podcast and submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Irish Department of Education and Skills.

The letter was written in response to Circular Letter 0013/2018 PDF from the Department of Education and Skills, detailing proposals for changes in the purpose of the circular was to:

... set out a new approach to the arrangements that are made for religious instruction and worship in the schools covered by this circular in order to ensure that the rights of children to attend the school without having to attend religious instruction will be conducted in a manner that takes account of the likelihood, given changing demographics, of an increasing number of families wanting to exercise their constitutional right to withdraw.

Bishop Brendan Leahy, co-signatory.

Bishop Brendan Kelly, co-signatory.
Clearly, the Irish Government had recognised the increasing rejection of Catholicism by its citizens - a fact which has been documented elsewhere. The circular letter recognised that, while it may once have been reasonable to assume that most, if not all, the students would have been Catholic, this was no longer a reasonable assumption.

Previously, those pupils who had been opted out of religious instructions were 'supervised' and given other activities. What they weren't given were formal lessons. The proposal and key change proposed in the circular was that:

...those who do not want instruction in line with the requirements of any particular religion should be timetabled for alternative tuition throughout the school year rather than supervised study or other activities.

In other words, those opting out of religious instructions were to be given tuition additional to that given to those taking religious instructions.

It is this intention to provide tuition to the opted-out pupils that has angered the Catholic bishops and prompted them to write in protest. The pertinent paragraph of their letter reads:

While we are respectful of the wishes of those who opt out of religious education (the Model Agreements and Deeds of Trust have always allowed for this provision), we are equally clear that those who continue to take religious education should not be disadvantaged in terms of the examinable curriculum by offering those who do not take religious education additional classes in an examinable curricular subject or by offering them another examinable curricular subject. Students must not be disadvantaged for taking religious education. [My emphasis]

In other words, and quite unequivocally, the bishops are saying that religious instructions placed those not opting out in a disadvantageous position, if those opting out occupy their time productively. Instead, the bishops would prefer those opting out to have the same handicap as those being subjected to religious instruction.

The disgraceful thing is that the Irish Government caved in to this interference and brought the rules into line with the Bishops' demands - that all Irish school children will be taught about religion but in a secular format, so there will be no opt out, since the law only allows opt out for religious instructions, not for secular lessons.

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