Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries

Atheist Ireland has produced a report that explains how Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries. The vast majority of publicly funded schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church, and if you want to get a job as a teacher you have to:

(a) have a Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies, which has as a programme objective that the trainee teacher ‘engage in personal reflection, research and discourse with a view to enhancing their own religious awareness,’ and which includes such learning outcomes as ‘demonstrate competence in the planning of liturgy, prayer and sacraments (Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation) in the Catholic primary school,’ and

(b) uphold the religious ethos of the school, which the Catholic Church sees as a central part of the mission of the Church, and part of the commission given by the Risen Christ to the apostles in Mt 28:18: “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”

Failing to comply with this religious discrimination will mean that your chances of gaining employment are slim, and that you can be dismissed if you fail to uphold the religious ethos of the patron.

In order to help the Catholic Church evangelise children, the Irish state requires publicly funded schools to uphold the ethos of the patron. This is supported by Section 15 (2) (b) of the Education Act 1998 which obliges the Board of Management of all schools to uphold and be accountable to the patron for upholding the ethos of the school.

Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools requires that religion be integrated into the state curriculum and the Primary School Curriculum requires that all children come to a knowledge of god. This Republic of ours ensures that there is no escape from the reality that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

The Church sends around Diocesan Inspectors to schools as religious police, to examine the teacher, not the students. They are checking up that the teacher is fulfilling the requirement to evangelise children into the Catholic faith, as this is their purpose and what they were hired to do. We have been informed by some teachers that, when they hear the Diocesan Inspector is coming in, they have to cram the children full of religion for days so that they pass the inspection.

The report on the Atheist Ireland website covers:

  • Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries
  • The Catholic Church insists teachers are missionaries
  • This is religious discrimination against atheists
  • This is also religious discrimination against Catholics
  • The State trains school teachers to be Catholic missionaries
  • Bishop Leo O’Reilly on the missionary role of the Church
  • A missionary proclamation of the Gospel for non-believers
  • The purpose of the Certificate in Religious Studies
  • Help Atheist Ireland to end this religious discrimination

The Irish state has put in place laws to enable the Catholic Church (agents of a foreign state) to carry out their mission to evangelise children while they access the education system. The state went to Europe and secured an exemption from the Equality Directive to continue to ensure that the atheist and minority faith teachers will be denied access to the teaching profession in a democratic Republic.

Religious discrimination against atheist and minority faith teachers is accepted as part of the Irish way of life, through deference to the Catholic Church. Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries.

Religious discrimination, like all discrimination, undermines the dignity of the human person. In this case religious discrimination in our education system has undermined the human rights of parents and their children. It also denies atheists and religious minorities from their right to access the teaching profession in a democratic Republic without religious discrimination.

It is time to challenge Church and State and demand equality for all. Religious discrimination against atheist and minority faiths teachers must be removed. Atheist Ireland is campaigning to change these unjust laws and to promote equality. Please help us to do so. For further information on how to help, please email us at


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