Education Equality has relaunched the petition ‘Don’t teach religion during school hours.’ The group is advocating for religious instruction in all State-funded schools to be confined to a distinct period of time taught after core school hours so that parents can effectively choose whether or not their child receives instruction in a particular religion. Education Equality is calling for an end to all religious discrimination in State-funded schools.
The petition was launched outside Leinster House on Wednesday 25th of September. Senators Ivana Bacik and Alice Mary Higgins (pictured above) were in attendance to show their support for the petition.
Speaking on the relaunch of Education Equality’s petition, Policy Officer Paddy Monahan noted: ‘With the Catholic Church controlling around 90% of our publicly funded primary schools, while accounting for less than half of all marriages in 2018, there is a widening disconnect between our school system, which is based overwhelmingly on religious patronage, and the actual beliefs of many of today’s families. The State is forcing parents to send their children to school to receive unwanted religious instruction and it is allowing the segregation of children in the classroom on the basis of a child’s religious background. This is in clear breach of their human and constitutional right to freedom of religion and belief.’
The petition has been launched alongside a promotional video with messages from parents saying: ‘I don’t think separating kids out from the main body of the class is good for them,’ and ‘He is also made to stand out in the class, which I know he finds quite difficult… I don’t think children should be put in that position.’
Speaking to the Tribune at the petition relaunch, Communications Officer David Graham said: ‘The idea behind the petition is to galvanise public support behind the move to remove religious discrimination and segregation from Irish schools during the school day. We want to give parents a meaningful option and choice as to whether or not their children receive religious indoctrination or religious instruction during the school day.’ He went on to say ‘This is becoming a political issue. Because we’re lucky enough to live in a democracy and in a democracy the power ultimately rests with the people, the demographics in Ireland are changing very rapidly, ultimately that will exert political pressure.’
Conor Capplis – Editor