Teacher sitting with students

Non-Religious Teachers Forced to Teach Religion

HAI CEO, Jillian Brennan, was interviewed this morning on Newstalk Radio (interview starts at 00:46:37) to discuss the falling number of teachers who believe in God. Jillian spoke about how teachers are discriminated against by being forced to teach religion which may not align with their own ethos. Many teachers are fearful of saying that they are not religious or do not believe in God, as it may negatively affect their career opportunities.

The government’s plan to divest 400 schools away from religious patronage by 2030 is failing. There are currently about 170 multi-denominational schools and only a handful of schools have divested in the last few years. Even if the Department of Education achieved this most unlikely goal, it would still be a drop in the ocean, as it would only increase the number of multi-denominational schools to about 13% of all primary schools.

With a growing percentage of non-religious people in Ireland, and with the pace of the school divestment programme exceptionally slow, now is the time to move religious instruction outside of the school day. This would enable parents who are religious to ensure that their children are taught by people who do actually believe in and practise Catholicism. It would also help to prevent the “othering” of non-religious children or children of minority faiths, who opt out of religious instruction and are very often left sitting at the back of the classroom whilst religion is being taught to their classmates.

Religion does not have a monopoly on values and morals and children can easily be taught about them through various methods that emphasise empathy, critical thinking, and understanding of ethical principles.

You can read more here about the challenges for the non-religious in our education system.

The Newstalk article is available here.

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