1,000 signatures reached
To: The Minister for Education; The Oireachtas Petitions Committee
Don't teach religious faith formation in school hours
Change the law so that religious faith formation is no longer taught during school hours
Why is this important?
My name is Paddy Monahan and I am dad to a great little boy but as the day he starts school gets closer I am getting increasingly worried. I think it’s horribly unfair that children not of the right religion – that’s the Catholic religion in 90% of primary schools in Ireland - are segregated and excluded in our taxpayer-funded schools.
Children who are not of the right religion sit separately in the classroom during the daily half-hour of religious faith formation, segregated from the rest of the class doing non-curriculum busywork while their friends sing songs and so on. This is the fate these children will face every day of their primary school lives. Every. Single. Day. The situation is far worse during communion and confirmation years.
Ireland has a blind spot when it comes to religious discrimination. Just imagine we segregated children in school on one of the other grounds that are prohibited by law, such as race or membership of the Traveller community. It's unthinkable, right? So why is religious discrimination OK in our schools?
The Constitution forbids religious discrimination and sets out the explicit right “to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction” (that's right – these schools are all taxpayer-funded). But the state does absolutely nothing to uphold this right. Not only are children made to feel different within the classroom but they absorb every word of the lesson anyway, thus undermining the parents' choice that they not receive religious instruction.
It's almost as though we are supposed to just shut up and be happy that our children got a place at the school. But I do not want my child to be grudgingly tolerated at the local school - I want him to be treated equally.
A state's education system provides an extraordinary opportunity to shape young minds, foster independent thought, challenge inherited institutional structures and influence the development of society for generations. Is religious difference really what we want to reinforce in our children throughout their school years? Is the state doing its job by allowing this to happen?
The solution is simple: religious faith formation in our taxpayer-funded schools should take place outside school hours. This respects the religious freedom of everyone and continues to allow children to receive faith formation at school, should their parents so wish. Who could object to that?