Religion and Irish society Ireland has long been recognised as a country whose culture, laws and way of life are predominantly influenced by its heavy catholic ethos. The passing of both the civil partnerships bill and the divorce referendum, the growing number of non denominational ‘educate together’ schools and the ready availability of contraception in recent years are all excellent examples of how our country is evolving to become on a par with our international counterparts.
There can be no argueing that our generation are growing up in a much more diverse and open minded society that that of our parents. However, the arguably oppressive values of the Catholic Church are still widely enforced and adhered to in many aspects of our society. At the tender age of four it is thus that as a child living in Ireland, one would be enrolled into a catholic national school.
With educate together schools only dotted around the country, making up on 58 of the 3300 primary schools; this is largely due to the fact that there is no other convinient or in fact possible option for parents. Having attended a catholic national school from 1996 until 2004, my experience of the teaching of religion was not one which explained to me the wide range of religions that prevail worldwide, or indeed the possibility of choosing not to follow one. Class masses and visits from the parish priest were regular.
The control that the Catholic Church has over what is and isn’t taught in secondary school is however something I feel to be a more serious and pressing issue. It is only in recent years that health education classes have been allowed to address the issue of contraception with teens, an issue of the upmost importance concerning health. It is still required that teachers make it clear that the roman catholic church does not allow protected sex or sex prior to marriage.
The divorce referendum which took place in Ireland in 1995 was subject to worldwide media coverage. Having been so famous for its rock solid catholic values, the idea that we would allow the religious sacrament of marriage to be reverted was one that not everyone could grasp. The rejection of this bill in the tenth amendment of the constitution in 1986 made this all the more controversial. This was not refined to outside of our borders either – with the bill passing by a miniscule margin of only 9,114 votes out of 1. 62 million cast, 50. 3% for versus 49. % against. The passing of this bill was enormous – a clear indication of just how many people were becoming increasingly comfortable with turning away from their catholic upbringing in favour of what they themselves considered to be a pro-people constitution. So whilst there can be no doubt that Ireland has come on in leaps and bounds in recent time, we still have a long way to if we are truly determined to instil an open mind upon this country, making sure that we allow our population to grow and develop in its own right, Independent from.
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( USA, AUS, UK & CA PhD. Writers )