Schools and faith

 

Sir, – The emergence of a new group highlighting the lack of an effective opt-out from religious instruction in our schools is welcome (“Are we failing non-Roman Catholic children in our primary schools?”, Education, October 12th).

The Department of Education says that opt-out policies depend on schools’ particular circumstances. The treatment of opted-out pupils is curiously similar around the country, however, and appears to be driven not by local issues but by a desire to make the process as intimidating and ineffective as possible.

Why do opted-out children invariably remain in the classroom during these lessons, despite having a constitutional right not to attend?

Why is religious indoctrination woven into every imaginable subject through the integrated curriculum, which teaches children that “Puberty is a gift from God”?

This is due not to a lack of resources but to a wilful disregard for human rights.

The assertion that “most non-Catholics are happy for them to learn the patron’s programme” does not reflect the views of the many families who have shared their experiences with Education Equality.

Parents are understandably reluctant to make their children feel different at school. It is disingenuous to describe them as happy when the alternative involves the risk of stigma and distress.

The reference to the integration of “people from different cultures” implies that to be Irish is to be Catholic and that those born and raised here are not affected by this issue. This is untrue on both counts. Half of all Irish marriages are now celebrated in secular ceremonies.

We need to listen to families who do not want their children to be evangelised at school. Their rights in this area have been ignored for far too long. – Yours, etc,

DAVID GRAHAM,

Communications Officer,

Education Equality,

Malahide,

Co Dublin.