Indoctrination, or teaching about religion?

 

Sir, – In his article “Dismissing religious education is a poor lesson in tolerance” (Education, December 19th), Dr Fiachra Long argues against “ignorance over knowledge” in, as he puts it, “the name of tolerance” and states that arguments against religious education are “bizarre”.

Learning about religion is indeed important and ignorance of the influence of religion will heavily impact on one’s understanding of history, geography, feminist theory, politics, English literature or our own national language and the role religion has played.

Ninety per cent of our State-funded schools go beyond merely teaching about religion however, they indoctrinate. For families looking to access these schools they face being put to the back of the queue and if they do access the school, no realistic way to opt out of religious instruction.

To dress up non-discrimination as “tolerance” betrays the underlying thinking of the author. Families of minority religion or of no faith do not wish to be tolerated, we share the same human rights and indeed pay the same taxes, we simply wish to access the same public services as everyone else on an equal basis.

There is no other public service where a “Catholics first” policy would be tolerated and that we tolerate our national schools treating four-year-old children in this manner is what is bizarre, not calls for the alternative. – Yours, etc,

SARAH LENNON,

Chairperson,

Education Equality,

Shankill,

Dublin 18.