I was in the process of responding to an article by catholic militant Senator Rónán Mullen in which he spouts his usual intolerant demand that taxpayers should pay to have children indoctrinated into the superstitions of his particular religion when I read the following excellent letter.
Mr. Peregrine says pretty much what I had in mind.
The debate that has been carried out in this paper through the articles by John Waters, Senator Ronan Mullen and Paul Rowe and the letters submitted by readers has exposed a very ugly side to our little country.
Those who argue for secularism (a separation of church and state) have variously been accused of being unthinking monkeys and incapable of teaching morality or dealing with bereavement.
These are the type of articles one might expect to find in state papers in the theocracies that Mary O’Dowd (Letters April 18th) believes we should look towards for guidance.
A bit of clarity needs to be introduced to this debate to wash away the mud that is being slung about.
The State has a responsibility to provide an education for every child in this State, however, this does not mean that the State has an obligation to provide a particular religious education for every citizen.
John Waters and Senator Mullen’s arguments about the merits of a Catholic education and the hazards of atheism are irrelevant.
They can educate their own children however they see fit.
The argument should remain focused on whether the State should fund denominational primary schooling or provide non- denominational education and allow parents to indoctrinate their children outside the classroom.
If the State chooses to continue funding denominational education then it must provide schooling for all children be they the children of Catholic, Jedi or Jewish parents.
A Mormon child on Inis Meain would need and should be entitled to his/her own school if the current system were to be continued.
The current fudge means that most non-Catholic children are forced to attend Catholic schools and have to sit out while preparations are made for the various sacraments and rituals that are such a large part of the Catholic primary school curriculum.
In a non- denominational system no child would be forced to exclude themselves from the class and all children could receive indoctrination from their parents after school or in their various churches, mosques or temples.
This argument has been framed as one about freedom for religion to distract from the basic constitutional right of freedom from religion.
Nowhere has it been argued that parents should be denied the right to educate their children in whatever “ethos” they choose to subscribe to.
What “secularists” have been arguing for is a right to have their child educated free from any religious indoctrination.
Alen Park Drive,