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Religion - an optional extra.

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Dermot Report 2 Mar 2018 10:08

As of yesterday, Irish secondary school students can opt for another subject if they don't want to study religion.

That's a mighty big change since my days in the classroom.

The new criteria reflects an increasingly secular society in Ireland.

'Multi-denominational' education is the current buzz expression. Not before time too.


Sharron Report 2 Mar 2018 10:23

It used to be the only thing a school was obliged to teach.


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 2 Mar 2018 10:26

Good news if it means they won’t have a particular dogma rammed down their throats. On the other hand, being exposed to ‘comparative religions’ for the first couple of secondary school years would help them understand how religion has shaped other people’s attitudes.


maggiewinchester Report 2 Mar 2018 10:49

My reaction would depend on what sort of 'Religion' is taught in Irish Secondary Schools.
If it's the old type- ie 'This is a Catholic School, so Religious studies will be about Catholicism' - then I say good.

If, however Ireland's Religious Studies are the study of the basic tenets of world religions and 'Multi denominational' education is what they want, then they're taking a step backwards.

Surely a basic understanding of the religions practised in your neighbourhood, by those around you, is a good thing, otherwise children - and adults - can go on the internet, and pick up the wrong idea.


JoyLouise Report 2 Mar 2018 10:54

While I did not go to school in Ireland, RE was not compulsory after the first year in our English Grammar - 1950s.


Nyx Report 2 Mar 2018 11:00

Not all schools though.

"Monday, February 19, 2018 - 12:00 AM

NEW rules on the place of religion in more than 300 multi- denominational second-level schools come into force this morning, but it may be autumn before class timetables can give full force to the change that will, effectively, make religion an optional subject in almost half of our secondary schools. The legislation does not have any consequences for more than 370 voluntary secondary schools operating under the aegis of religious orders. Nine comprehensive schools fall outside its remit, too."


maggiewinchester Report 2 Mar 2018 11:13

Ah - so, if I've understood it, it's only those pupils attending a Catholic School who aren't Catholic that can 'opt out', and study another subject, rather than sit through a Religious lesson.
Bearing in mind the amount of religious brainwashing taking place in quite a few 'religious' schools - of all faiths - to my mind, school should be for education, Church, Temple, Mosque etc should be for Religion.


Dermot Report 2 Mar 2018 11:28

As a 'Cradle Catholic', my religious education began (or so I'm told) on my mother's good knee long before attending junior school. As it transpired, all of my fellow pupils were from Catholic households too.

In addition, she was a keen advocate of implanting basic 3-R's into my empty brain. A positive move in any circumstance for which I have always appreciated.


JoyLouise Report 2 Mar 2018 11:29

They still do RE in one or two junior level years here (C of E Aided School) but they learn about several religions, customs, foods, commandments, laws, dress etc.

At a higher level, it is often tied in with history so it is probably still being taught but not as a stand-alone subject.

Not at all sure whether Northern Irish schools follow the same route but I'd be surprised if Southern Irish schools did so.

Still not too old to be surprised though. :-D


LaGooner Report 2 Mar 2018 12:16

I had the same upbringing as Dermot's post above and I too am very grateful for it


Cynthia Report 5 Mar 2018 08:44

Catching up here after a hectic week :-D

Mixed feelings on this subject. In theory, no student should be forced to study a subject they are not interested in......but....if a subject is to be an optional extra, how do they know they are not interested in it unless they are first given the opportunity to look at it? Does that make sense?

Over the years I have seen so many folk who 'have no interest in relgion', getting married in church, bringing their children for baptism, wanting their child to attend a church school and, finally, wanting a church funeral.

Despite the fact that some people have 'no interest', they are still welcomed.

I admit to getting a touch cynical at times. Must be old age. :-D


RolloTheRed Report 5 Mar 2018 08:54

No god for Ireland ! he cried. We have had too much god in Ireland. Away with god!

James Joyce, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"


David Report 5 Mar 2018 10:45

I have a KJV version in the drawer and a Catholic version on my Kindle. I confess to only having read bits of of both. Would have read any I hadn't been taught it at school.


Nyx Report 5 Mar 2018 12:01

Ah but we're not talking about God, we're talking about religion ;-) They is often two different aminals ;-)

Cynthia, taking your point about if they haven't had a chance to look at Religion ( as a subject) how do the youngsters know whether they'd choose it as an option? well the same goes for most subjects? ie you've had some knowledge of them by the time you get to the 'option' stage and you choose because you're interested or you choose because it's an easier option for you personally :-)

Getting baptised, married in, or buried via a church is possibly less about 'religion' and more about " In the face of God"? It would be for me, as I don't follow one particular denomination of Christianity ( and come to that would be just as happy were it feasible to do the same in a Mosque or Synagogue....or a forest lol. God's house or merely the 'building owned by the RC, Methodists, C of E etc... if it's ONLY the latter there is no point to it. As you say all are welcome then you are making your particular church the former :-)

My view is that primary schools, should address the subject in the broadest sense, " Compare and contrast" as they used to put at the top of essay questions, but as a separate subject to history or anything else it touches...too much of the religion in 'history' is sectarian and not nec' indicative of what it is now or should be.


Dermot Report 5 Mar 2018 14:24

'There is no evidence that teaching religion in schools is having a negative impact on educational standards'.

(I forget where I read or heard this.)


Cynthia Report 5 Mar 2018 14:36

Yes and no Nyx :-D

This could be construed as a bit of a cynical rant :-D

I honestly believe that children should be taught the basics of the Christian faith. We are, officially, known as a Christian country whether people like it or not. Our Monarch is a practising and enthusiastic Christian. The Archbishops have a higher precedence of rank than the Prime Minister.

Being taught something is not always akin to 'ramming it down their throats'. I had maths rammed down my throat - I was not given a choice. :-D

Being taught about the faith of your country does not hinder your growth in any way. Having learned the facts, you then make the decision of whether to follow that faith - or not. But at least you have a knowledge and can make an informed decision.

I take baptism prep classes and face a large group of eager parents each month.

So, why do you wish your child to be baptised?

Errr.......its tradition; its good for them; we want a party; we want him/her to get into the church school (not for the religious aspect but for the quality of the education).

Very, very rarely do I get a response 'we would like our child to be brought up in the Christian faith'.

About this faith, how are you on bible stories? Blank stares.

Anyone know what Jesus did before he began his ministry? Shaking of heads.

Then we grapple with the explanation of the Holy Spirit which figures large in the service.

So many bring their child for baptism without a clue as to the significance of the whole ceremony. We welcome them.

Weddings? Our church has more requests for weddings (rather as though we were a concert venue) than the neighbouring church. Why? We have a central aisle - they have the more non-conformist style of two side aisles. Brides want to show their dresses off down a central aisle.

Have you thought of hymns? Eh? Don't know any.

What about prayers? Eh? Dunno.

Please remove your hat sir. Eh? Why?

We welcome them.

Funerals? Ah this is a bit near the bone......this is the end of life as we know it. Maybe we should bring God into it now. Maybe we shouldn't take any chances...... Only ever been to church twice before but maybe......maybe........maybe

We welcome them.

Cynical Cyn. x


RolloTheRed Report 5 Mar 2018 15:00

None of my children have been baptised. It is a pointless exercise with young children more akin to superstition than religion. I left it to them to decide for themselves - one is a buddhist and the others are totally disinterested in religion.

Joyce of course saw little idfference between relgion and superstition.

The idea that all of the major religions are somehow essentially the same and convergent is both dangerous and wrong.

Islam for a starting point does not recognise other religions as offerng any sort of path to god. They may give other religions space for practical reasons but that is all it is, grudge space. You can see the real disposition right now in Syria or Burma.

There has never been a single religion that does not claim to be able to intercede with god / the gods so to talk about religion while omitting god is illogical. The converse may be possible ie. to discuss the possibility of some sort of god outside of a relgious framework.

Given the general beating up of people in Europe in general and Ireland in particular based on religion the logic is the same as for guns - they don't belong in schools, Religion is probably the more dangerous of the two.

The retreat of the R.C. church in Ireland, north and south, makes the antics of the tin whistle brigade look more and more absurd. Sooner rather than later all of Ireland will be reunited through the provisions for a plebiscite built into the Good Friday Agreement.


Nyx Report 5 Mar 2018 15:25

LOL Cynthia, someone more cynical than me? ;-)

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" so while the people who come to your church for baptisms etc can't be forced, you are at very least leading them to where they may realise they wish to 'drink' at some time?

I'm struggling here lol I know what I think but it won't translate into words on the page ;-)


David Report 5 Mar 2018 15:36

The Vatican had a book banned because it stated that William of Orange's Battle of the Boyne and all that had been financed by the then Pope. Wasn't it more political than religious ?


Nyx Report 5 Mar 2018 15:40

As Rollo posted while I was deleting my ramblings :-)

"The idea that all of the major religions are somehow essentially the same and convergent is both dangerous and wrong. "

And this is surely as true as within the same religion? My Christianity ( such as it is, and from a very gentle Christian education) is entirely different from the 'hard line' very literal interpretations of Christianity of branches of the apparently same 'faith'.

The same would be true I think of ( most?) other religions where interpretation can be as different as A to Z ?