Catholicism: Is there a place in schools for it? – by Alice Kinsella

Guest Post by Alice Kinsella.

Via VoicesOfYouth

Recently, a friend of mine went to our principal and asked to leave religion class, which is compulsory in our school. I managed to get out at the beginning of the school year by pointing out that I’d never been baptised and that religion was wasting my valuable study time. My friend, however, was told that it is a Catholic school, therefore she must attend.
Our school is not catholic. It is funded by the state. We have a ‘catholic ethos’, a priest on the board of management and mass twice a year. But, none the less, we are a state school. They cannot refuse to admit children of other religions. But, religion classes are compulsory for the full five/six years of education. During these classes they preach about god and catholic meaning. Buddhism got mentioned once in 2nd year, evidently they come up short when compared to the ‘religious education’ and objective view of all world religions they once promised us. In our school, religion is a compulsory exam subject in the junior certificate. And last month our Irish (Irish, NOT religion) teacher gave out to the class for not saying our prayers.
So if you walked in the door, and saw a four foot man nailed to a cross staring down at you you’d probably think it was run by the church, right? Well it’s not; it is being paid for by the tax payer, the NON DENOMINATIONAL tax payer. I’ve found that this is the case in many schools around the country. “You pay, we pray”.
So I ask the reader, is it fair that as young people in Ireland we are still being subjected to the controlling, brain washing, backwards ways of the catholic church when we are supposedly being educated? Don’t get me wrong, Catholics can believe what they want, as can any religion, they can practice and pray until they’re blue in the face for all I care, but should they be allowed influence little children from the moment they step in the door? I don’t think so. We live in diverse and multi cultural society, a society full of people of different race, religion and sexual orientation. And yet, the majority of children still have no other option than to go to schools backed by a single religion, and that religion having openly stated its contempt for the LGBT community. Is this the kind of thing young people of today should be taught?
I live in a field, that field is in a bog, that bog is in a town land, that town land is in the sparsely populated, very wet, kind of green county of Mayo. Schooling wise, there aren’t many options. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a single non denominational school within a 20 mile radius of my home. But there are six that have a ‘catholic ethos’. So I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re a teenager, scratch that, if you’re a kid of any age in Ireland living outside of Dublin you’re pretty much stuck with the church. Sure, they won’t kick you out, if you’re lucky they won’t even force you into mass, but you’d better get used to being looked at as if everything you think is ridiculous.
When I was a kid my national school was Catholic school too. It was so close to the church, the 6th class kids used to play dares in the church bathroom. I was continuously scoffed at by teachers, the priest used to be left in our classroom for hours on end and tell us whatever he wanted. We were told all kinds of rubbish, dinosaurs didn’t exist, babies are gifts from god found in fields, every time you masturbate god kills a kitten, the usual. We couldn’t question it. He was the priest. End of story.
So what if I’d been Muslim? What if I was a Lesbian? Are kids today in that position? Do they feel that what they do/are makes them a bad person? And all because someone else’s superstition has been given a leading role in their education? I don’t think this is fair.
In countries like France and USA religion and state are kept separate, and people grow up being all the more accepting for it.
It’s the 21st century; it’s time for Ireland to realise that the minds of young people is no place to force varying superstitions as fact. It’s time we all had access to safe, open minded, religion free schools!

From: VoicesOfYouth with permission



  1. Avatar
    David January 19, 2010

    This is a great article, but it’s preaching to the choir (pardon the pun) unless it is published somewhere other than on an atheist website. I hope that this appears either in print or online somewhere else, for non-atheists to read.

  2. Avatar
    BK January 21, 2010

    Were you really told this:

    “…dinosaurs didn’t exist, babies are gifts from god found in fields, every time you masturbate god kills a kitten, the usual” ?

    Did the priest really tell you that “god kills a kitten” when masturbate?
    I don’t think so.
    It’s hard to take an article seriously that contains such an obvious lie…

  3. Avatar
    Tanya January 22, 2010

    i am a member of VOY and it is up on our website not just on here. its very well written and its goood 2 c that it was published on here

  4. Avatar
    Sven January 24, 2010

    One major flaw in the argument though… About Americans being all the more accepting…

    But yes I understand your outrage, and I too abhored having to sit through nonsensical prattle for the majority of my early education (and indeed college as I studied in Milltowns now defunct philosophy department). On the positive side, however, this religious onslaught has made me all the more outspoken and aggressive on the issue. It’s the risk that religions don’t realise they run – by forcing themselves upon us they are radicalising generations into neo-Neitzsches (I mean the blasphemy law has finally allowed the atheists of this country to unite and actually get media attention from it).

    So maybe it’s a good thing that schools are falling short of their promised inclusion? Maybe this is allowing us to not be stifled in the beliefs that we’re all happy and wonderful and everything is good. Maybe, just maybe, this extra push towards dissention is just what’s needed for our generations to get up and make the status quo worth accepting?

  5. Avatar
    Alice K January 31, 2010

    Hi, I wrote this, and yes we were told 2 of those 3, the third is obvious exageration but not so far from what is true for many. It’s humorous as well as serious. It’s obvious through the tone of the article. It’s not a lie as it’s quite plainly comic relief.
    What a life one would lead if you had to take every single thing literally.

  6. Avatar
    John McMahon February 18, 2010

    The RC Church controls only the schools which it owns. The writer is being less than honest in trying to depict the property of the Catholic Church as the property of the State. When she attended a Catholic school, she was a guest of the RC church and of the RC people of the neighbourhood. Why did she not behave as a courteous guest should?

    Separation of church and state does not call into question the right of Catholics to control the education of their children. There are Catholic schools in France and in the USA.

    The writer is less than honest when she states that the school was maintained by non-denominational taxpayers. She insinuates that Catholics do not pay tax.
    She also seems to be questining the right of Catholic schools to teach Catholicism. And seems to think that the Catholic church is responsible for there being no non-Catholic schools within easy reach of her home. Her anti-Catholic rant fails to acknowledge that it is for the parents of children to decide what control (if any) the Catholic, or any other church, shall have over the education of their children. And she refuses to acknowledge that the Catholic church has a right to preach what it wants to preach about Gays, lesbians or anything else. From her rant, one could get the impression that Catholic schools are in the habit of sending out snatch squads to grab the children of non-Catholics from the streets and drag them kicking and screaming to be “indoctrinated” in a Catholic school.