Atheist Ireland condemns discrimination against parents – Sunday Tribune

Article by John Downes
Published in the Sunday Tribune, 9 Jan 2011

PARENTS who do not wish to have their children attend religious classes in school are routinely being asked to supervise them personally during school hours because schools will not do so, according to Atheist Ireland. The organisation also said it had received complaints that some schools were forcing the children of non-religious parents to take a religious education course introduced a decade ago.

It said the current situation meant the right of individuals to be exempted from participation in religious classes was a “theoretical illusion” because there were no appropriate provisions within the education system for convictions of non-religious parents to be respected.

“Under the present system, it is parents who are responsible for the supervision of their children while religion classes are taking place. This simply does not constitute an exemption underhuman rights law and it is discriminatory,” a draft position paper stated. “What parent can take time to go to the school and remove their child from religion class during the school day? It is a burden that the religious majority simply do not have!’

Elsewhere, the document – which forms part of Atheist Ireland’s Teach Don’t Preach campaign, said the new religious education course introduced in 2000 was “supposed to be suitable for all religions and none.” But it said it had received complaints that some schools were forcing the children of non-religious parents to take the course.

“This course disrespects the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents and breaches their human rights…in order to access the course the children of non-religious parents must endure the disrespect of the state for their parent’s philosophical convictions.”

Atheist Ireland education officer Jane Donnelly, who compiled the draft document, said it would be sent to the Irish Human Rights Commission later this month. The commission is preparing recommendations for the government on the place of religion in education from a human rights perspective and has asked for the opinions of citizens and groups before the end of this month.


  1. Avatar
    Thom Lanigan January 10, 2011

    The teaching of religious studies in publicly-/government-funded schools to children is unethical. Therefore if a parent chooses that his/her child should not receive such classes, it is up to the school to have an alternative arrangement for the children.

    I’m of the opinion that religious dogma should not have a place in Irish schools at all, and that the religious organisations who wish to teach their myths should do so outside school time, as there are far more pressing matters in education that children need to learn. Chief among these include social skills, grammatical skills, basic maths and spelling.

    It should not be on the parent to find time to take their children out of the school. It must be on the schools to push the onus for religious teaching to the religious organisations outside of school time.

    Public shools should be under the care of the state, and not of religious orders, run by organised groups of child-molesters. Parents should have the right to have their child attend schools free from religious doctrine. The state should not provide “a religious course suitable for all and none”, it should simply do away with the waste of time that is religion in schools.

    The state needs to take charge of the education of our citizens, rather than leaving them in the care of organisations who have shown themselves incapable of protecting and caring for children. Religious classes would then be pushed outside of our public education system and then the onus would be on the parent to decide whether to bring their child to the religious organisation it chooses.

  2. Avatar
    Gus January 10, 2011

    Even though I’m an Atheist I think Religion should be thought in school.

    All major world Religions that is, including the stuff the churches try to keep quiet like the Christian God advocating child-killing, rape and genocide.

    Then at the end of the class tell them that they don’t have to believe any of that if they don’t want to.


Leave reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.