Religion in school is incompatible with Human Rights Law

The Education Policy of Atheist Ireland is based on international human rights law.

This policy is based on the human right to be educated without being indoctrinated with religion and to be free from proselytism summarised as “Teach Don’t Preach”.

The demand for diversity requires the Irish education system not only to consider, but guarantee, the Human Right  to respect the religious and philosophical convictions of ALL parents without discrimination. The Irish State has ratifying the European Convention on Human Rights and the various UN Conventions and therefore has already agreed to guarantee to respect ALL parents’ religious and philosophical convictions in the Irish education system.

The European Court of Human Rights has stated in Kjeldsen, Busk Madsen and Pedersen v Denmark 1976 that:

“the ‘travaux prèparatoires’ of Article II of Protocol 1 (the Right to Education) of the European Convention aims in short at safeguarding the possibility of pluralism in education which possibility is essential for the preservation of the “democratic society” as conceived by the Convention.

Plurality of patronage (as far as possible) cannot achieve pluralism in education.  No state, and particularly the Irish state with its limited means and many smaller local communities, can guarantee provision of education in accordance with the religious and non-religious affiliation of every child’s parents.

Therefore the patronage system cannot provide the “democratic society” as defined by the European Convention. Respect for the religious and philosophical convictions of ALL parents is realistically impossible under the Irish patronage system as human rights are guaranteed to individuals not to the religious majority in a given area.

What we have in Ireland is the abuse of a dominant and historical position (Catholic & Protestant). The patronage system identifies members of society by their or their parents’ religious affiliation. The patronage system coerces parents to identity with various groups in society as children can be refused access to the local school in the event of a shortage of places and in order to uphold a “religious ethos”.

It also allow for discrimination in employment:

  • requiring teachers in primary school to obtain a certificate in teaching the religion of the controlling body
  • excluding non-religious or minority religious teachers access to jobs in the majority of primary schools

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