Schools teach relevance of religion, as relevance of religion declines

A new specification for religious education in Irish schools aims to teach all children about the relevance of religion to their lives, just as the number of couples choosing a religious marriage is consistently decreasing year on year.

Last September, a new specification for NCCA Religious Education was introduced in second level schools. NCCA Religious Education is an exam subject at junior and leaving certificate level. The Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, and the NCCA claims that this course is suitable for all religions and none. The main aim of the course is to teach all students about the relevance of religion to their lives.

But Ireland has changed. For many people, religion simply has no relevance to their lives. The CSO figures for marriages in Ireland in 2018 show that there is an increase in the number of people choosing non-religious marriages, and a decrease in the number of people choosing religious marriages.

Included in the ‘religious’ figure for 2018 are 1,430 marriages conducted by the Spiritualist Union of Ireland. So only 54% of marriages were conducted through a traditional religion. Catholic marriages are now at 10,027, or 47.6%, which is less than half of all marriages. There were only 323 Church of Ireland marriages, yet the Church of Ireland is still allowed to run state-funded schools and discriminate on the ground of religion in access and in running the schools.

The increase of people choosing non-religious marriages for one of the most significant events in their lives means that they are hardly likely to see religion as relevant to their lives. They are also highly unlikely to agree that any children that they may have should be taught about the relevance of religion to their lives. They would see such a course for what it is, indoctrination.

The new specification for Religious Education introduced in schools in Septembers this year is not an inclusive course. This Fine Gael government is trying to stem the inevitable change that, for an increasing amount of people in Ireland, religion has no relevance to their lives.

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