Religious education in schools
Sir, – Seamus McKenna (October 25th) describes religious education in Ireland’s as indoctrination. He proceeds to indict the religious education policy of schools that forbid students from studying examined subjects during timetabled religion classes as a “scandal” and praises Atheist Ireland for uncovering this practice through the Freedom of Information Act. Indeed, according to Mr McKenna, this policy is “calculated to make us the laughing stock of the civilised world.”
Post-primary schools under religious patronage have a clear policy towards the inclusion of students of other religious faiths and none during timetabled religious education (RE) classes. These are outlined in the Joint Managerial Body’s “Guidelines on the Inclusion of Students of Other Faiths in Catholic Secondary Schools”, which can be freely accessed online. It clearly states that religious education in the Catholic school does not have indoctrination or proselytising as its purpose. In addition, students who do not share the religious faith of the school patron are encouraged to “grow in their own faith or spirituality”. This can be accomplished by the reading or study of a text during timetabled religious education classes. These guidelines are integrated into schools’ religious education policies and published on individual schools’ websites.
Schools under religious patronage do not adopt the attitude that faith is something so divisive, shameful or embarrassing that it should only be practised behind closed doors, but is a fundamental part of an individual’s identity and should, therefore, be recognised, affirmed, nurtured and respected by the school. – Yours, etc,