The Education Act does not oblige schools to promote moral and spiritual education through religion
For some reason, some ETBs and the Catholic Church believe that the Section 9 of the Education Act obliges them to promote the moral and spiritual of all children through religion. They equate the word ‘spiritual’ in Section 9 with religion, and have simply jumped to conclusions from that.
This analysis is wrong, as the word ‘spiritual’ in the Ed Act is not confined to religion. The Dail debates surrounding this section of the Act show that the word ‘spiritual’ was not meant to be confined to religion.
One of the main aims of the Religious Education course is to contribute to the moral and spiritual education of all children through religious education.
Doing this is contrary to the rights of parents under the Constitution. In addition, Section 30 of the Education Act gives parents the right to opt out their children from anything that is against their conscience.
The Religious Education course at second level was always meant to be optional. Schools must allow students to opt out of religious education, and should give them another subject.