School ethos and SPHE
Atheist Ireland has made a submission to the NCCA’s consultation on the updated junior cycle SPHE curriculum. We argue that the course should be delivered in an objective, critical, and pluralistic manner, and not taught through the ethos of the school.In the recent Burke v Minister for Education case at the Supreme Court, the court upheld the rights of parents in relation to the religious and moral formation of their children. The court found that parental authority was a foundational pillar of the constitution the state must have ‘due regard’ for the rights of parents in the education system.
As part of the aim of the NCCA course is to ‘develop values’, it is parents under the Constitution who decide what is or is not suitable ‘values’ for their children. The state is constitutionally obliged to have ‘due regard’ for the rights of parents in this regard.
If the course is not taught objectively, but through the religious ethos of schools ,and parents are not informed that this is happening, it will undermine the rights of parents under the Constitution.
You can help us to campaign on these and other secular issues by joining Atheist Ireland as a member, or by asking anybody who you think may be interested in joining us to do so. We are an entirely voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. You can join Atheist Ireland here.
– Secular Sunday Editorial Team
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To broaden and strengthen our campaigns, Atheist Ireland have undertaken to make more use of the Irish language.
We are looking to assemble a group of volunteers, to help with:
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We are in the process of translating policy documents at the moment, and we need some help with translating and proofreading. If you would like to assist with this effort, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Atheist Ireland News
Religious school ethos should not influence social, personal, and health education
Atheist Ireland has made the following submission to the NCCA’s consultation on the updated junior cycle SPHE curriculum.
The aim of the updated short course is
‘to nurture students’ self-awareness and positive self-worth and to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, dispositions and values that will help them to create and maintain respectful and caring relationships and lead fulfilling and healthy lives.’
The aim should be extended to include
“…through a course delivered in an objective, critical, and pluralistic manner and not taught through the ethos of the school.”
This is in line with Article 11 of the Social Charter, human rights law, and the rights of parents under the Constitution.
- Article 42.1 of the Constitution obliges the state to respect the rights of parents in relation to the religious, moral and social education of their children.
- Article 42.4 of the Constitution obliges the state to have due regard to the rights of parents in relation to religious and moral formation of their children.
If the course is taught through the religious ethos of schools, it will undermine the rights of parents with philosophical convictions.
In the recent Burke v Minister for Education case at the Supreme Court the court upheld the rights of parents in relation to the religious and moral formation of their children. The court found that parental authority was a foundational pillar of the constitution and that an overall saver in the constitutional text was that the state must have ‘due regard’ for the rights of parents in relation to the religious and moral formation of their children.
The Supreme Court went on to say that this provision reflects a concern for upholding parental authority; a foundation pillar of the Constitution that accords with Article 41 recognising the family as “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of” Irish society. This is a condition of the state funding of schools.
As part of the aim of the course is to ‘develop values’, it is parents under the Constitution who decide what is or is not suitable ‘values’ for their children. The state is constitutionally obliged to have ‘due regard’ for the rights of parents in this regard.
If the course is not taught objectively but through the religious ethos of schools and parents are not informed that this is happening, it will undermine the rights of parents under the Constitution.
We appreciate that the NCCA have no legal control over ‘ethos’. However, the NCCA are obliged to:
41-(3) – In carrying out its functions the Council shall:
“have regard to the desirability of achieving equality of access to, participation in and benefit from education (Section 41-3(c) Education Act 1998) and
“have regard to the practicalities of implementation of any advice which it proposes to give to the Minister. (Section 41-3(d).)”
Section 6 (a) of the Education Act 1998 obliges every person concerned in the implementation of this Act to have regard to:
“give practical effect to the constitutional rights of children….”
(l) – to enhance the accountability of the education system, and”
“(m) – to enhance transparency in the making of decisions in the education system both locally and nationally.”
Notwithstanding the fact that the NCCA have no control over ‘ethos’ (Section 15-2 (b) Education Act 1998), it cannot just ignore that it will have an impact on the updated course and this consequently will have consequences for the constitutional rights of parents and their children.
Enhancing accountability, enhancing transparency in the making of decision and giving practical effect to the constitutional rights of children puts the NCCA in the position that it cannot continue to ignore its legal responsibilities. Read online…
Calling concerned teachers
If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at email@example.com
List of Atheist Ireland Submissions
Buy this book “Is My Family Odd About Gods?”
**Schools Special Offer**
Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about gods‘ free (excluding postage and packaging). This means that you can get this book for the total price of 10 euro. This offer is aimed at families with school going children, who would like to read this book. This offer is limited to one book per family unit and for postage within Ireland only. Read more…
Have you noticed that your school and your teachers may tell you one thing about religion, while some of your friends and family may have different ideas about god?
If you think that this is a little odd, then this book is for you. Buy this book here.
Lessons about Atheism
Atheist Ireland has published a set of free lesson plans about atheism for children aged 8 and up. We welcome feedback, which we will use to develop the lessons. You can download the lesson plans
Be Good without Gods
Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of $37,905 to 1326 entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can join the team here. Before you chose a loan, make sure you do not support religious groups. You can check the loan partner’s social and secular rating here.
Atheist Ireland’s ‘notme.ie‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1952 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here.
Petition on Schools Equality PACT
Atheist Ireland currently runs one petition – The Schools Equality PACT. This seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Currently this stands at 4,112 Help us reach it’s target of 5000. Please sign and share this petition if you haven’t already done so. Thank you.
Tell us what you think
Have you any feedback that you would like to give us on the Secular Sunday newsletter. What are we getting right? What could we improve on? Is there something you would like to see included? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please consider joining or re-joining Atheist Ireland
Atheist Ireland is an entirely volunteer run organisation. We receive no grants or government funding to continue our campaign work. We rely entirely on membership fess and donations.
Annual membership is nominal; €25 waged, €10 unwaged/student and €40 for family membership. Please consider becoming a member. Membership means:
- You can help to build an ethical and secular Ireland.
- You have a say in determining policy and electing officers.
- You can attend members meetings and our AGM.
- You will have access to our members only Facebook group
- Your membership fee will go towards supporting our many campaigns.
You can join Atheist Ireland here.
Thank you for your continued support
Atheist Ireland Committee
Opinion and Media
Material on atheism, secularism, human rights,politics,science etc. collected from media and the blogosphere from Ireland and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement. We aim to include a variety of diverse opinions and viewpoints.
Blogs & Opinions
Religious orders yet to agree to pay into mother and baby home redress scheme
By Elaine Loughlin
The six religious orders involved in Mother and Baby homes have yet to agree to pay towards a redress scheme a year after it was announced. Read more…
Church’s insecurity during Civil War set in train its move toward authoritarianism
By Diarmaid Ferriter
Throughout the recent years of commemoration of Ireland’s revolutionary decade, there has been little sustained attention given to the role of the Catholic Church during that period and its response to the turmoil and violence. Read more…
Independent Review of Education finds overwhelming support for ending religious divides
By Humanists UK
Today sees the publication of the Independent Review of Education’s Interim Report, Excellent Education for All. The report is based on a survey, which has found that, in the eyes of stakeholders, religious segregation in Northern Ireland is the biggest weakness with the current system. Read more…
Mubarak Bala must be released, Humanists UK tells UN released
By Humanists UK
Humanists UK has repeated its call on UN actors to work towards the release of Mubarak Bala, the President of the Nigerian Humanist Association who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for posting ‘blasphemous’ content on Facebook in April this year. Read online…
MPs debate blasphemy laws in the Commonwealth
By Humanists UK
Today, MPs debated blasphemy laws and allegations in Commonwealth countries. Each of the speakers raised particular concern over repressive laws in Nigeria and Pakistan, with most speaking out on Mubarak Bala, President of the Nigerian Humanist Association, who was recently sentenced to 24 years in prison for a ‘blasphemous’ post on Facebook Read more…
EU top court: Employers banning religious signs at work is not discrimination
By Tristan Fiedler
The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled Thursday that internal legislation by an employer prohibiting the visible wearing of all religious, philosophical or spiritual signs at work does not constitute direct discrimination. Read online…
NSS calls for parliamentary committee to review collective worship
The National Secular Society
The National Secular Society has called on a parliamentary select committee to investigate compulsory worship in schools. The NSS wrote to the Education Select Committee today requesting a review on the collective worship requirement in schools in England and the “government’s intransigence” on the issue. Read more…
If you are a blogger or vlogger writing or talking about atheism, secularism, ethics, skepticism, human rights etc. and would like us to include your work here please email the link to email@example.com
Podcasts, Videos and Interviews
Do you host an Irish-based podcast on atheism, secularism, science, skepticism, human rights etc.? Let us know and we will link to it here.
News and views from Ireland and around the world. Sharing is not an endorsement.