Imposing a secular educational system
Sir, – David Graham of Education Equality (Letters, June 24th) uses marriage data (43 per cent Catholic marriages in 2019 and 41 per cent non-religious) to illustrate the declining influence of religion in Ireland and argues, on this basis, for the secularisation of schools. At least, I think that is what he is arguing for, ie he wants religious instruction removed from the school curriculum entirely, and replaced with other material, which he fails to specify. I presume the State, in his vision, is to decide the details of what is to replace religious formation. Not the parents, more than 90 per cent of whom (the last time a survey was carried out of parents’ wishes, when Ruairí Quinn was minister for education) wanted the system to remain as it is.
I do not disagree with Mr Graham’s analysis of the changes that are taking place in our society, but I do think that about 30 per cent of Catholics continue to be serious about their religion and will want their children brought up in the faith, in their own schools, and if Mr Graham wants to take this away from them, then I vehemently disagree with that.
The remaining 70 per cent of Catholics, I simply do not understand. They seem to want to maintain their ties with the church, and in particular to have their children prepared for holy communion and confirmation; but (according to the RTÉ exit poll, taken on the day of the abortion referendum) they are not bothered to attend church even once a week, and they voted overwhelmingly for abortion in the 2018 referendum.
I have no idea how they will react to the sort of educational changes proposed by Mr Graham.
I am sure that, if Ruairí Quinn’s survey were to be repeated next year, more parents than last time would support Mr Graham’s position.
My main concern, however, is that committed Catholics, and committed members of minority religions, are allowed to continue with the present system.
I can see no reason why faith schools and secular schools should not continue to exist together.
But my fear is that those who call themselves liberal see things differently, and actually want to impose a completely secular education system on everybody. – Yours, etc,