Religion is ‘caught’ not taught

 

Sir, – Your heading on the letters’ page “teaching religion in schools” needs some explanation. After nearly 40 years involved in “religious education” at secondary level I have come to the conclusion that religion is “caught” not taught.

Teaching religion may lead to increased quantitative levels of religious knowledge and these may be examined in objective tests.

However, religious knowledge of itself may have little or no bearing on human behaviour.

What is critical in the process whereby a young person’s behaviour is motivated by religion is not religious education or levels of knowledge attained, but whether the student sees the proponents of the religion practise what they teach and this starts from the home.

For religions to place the burden on schools through religious education classes to impart a faith dimension to a young person’s life is both unfair and almost impossible in itself.

The religion itself must be seen in the context of how it is perceived by the critical student. If it is seen as misogynist and anti-LGBT and an unjust ethos prevails in the school then no amount of teaching religion can make that religion acceptable. Does this mean that teaching religion in schools is an irrelevant exercise? Yes it is, if the religion concerned is seen as hypocritical and unjust. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN BUTLER,

Malahide,

Co Dublin.