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Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
A Church of England ad has been banned from cinemas. The makers of Downton Abbey didn't want religion featured in the series. A new secular prudery seeks to ban any positive mention of religion from our screens and from public view generally for fear it will cause offense.
This week sees the 20th anniversary of the referendum that narrowly legalised divorce in Ireland back in 1995. Various media outlets are marking the occasion, chiefly by claiming that the Yes side was right about the effects of the referendum and the No side was wrong. Needless to say, this is too simplistic because each side was right on certain points and each side was wrong on certain points.
In this blog I look at the “Ethics” section of the proposed “Education about Religious Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics” curriculum which is intended for primary schools. I ask whether it is compatible with faith-based instruction in denominational schools. I argue here that the moral outlook, which very strongly emphasises autonomy and choice is relativistic in outlook.
The National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) recently launched a consultation paper on a proposed new curriculum for primary schools called “Education about Religion and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics”. This short piece analyses how likely it is that ERB will be compatible with the current way of teaching religion by primary schools with a faith-based ethos. It argues that ERB will in all likelihood be incompatible with the current way of teaching religion in denominational schools because its pedagogic approach will implicitly endorse an agnostic attitude towards all faiths.
Iona Director David Quinn appeared on RTE's Claire Byrne Live to debate school admissions policies with barrister Paddy Monahan. The debate focused on the criteria on which school places are allotted in the event of a shortage. David Quinn argued that the State must ensure that enough school places exist for all who want them.
A report in last week’s Irish Catholic quotes teachers who say it is very hard to talk about their faith in….Catholic schools. The teachers attended The Iona Institute seminar on denominational schools a fortnight ago and spoke during the Q and A session. This news might come as a surprise to some but it shouldn’t. The same tide of secularisation that is sweeping over much of society is sweeping over Catholic schools as well.
Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, has signalled her willingness, in light of the passage of the Bill allowing for same-sex marriage, to alter the “prohibited degrees of relationship” that currently bar people marrying those who are considered too closely related. This raises the prospect of relationships until now considered too incestuous being permitted.
Budget 2016 will see the Home Carer’s Credit (HCC) increase by €190 per annum. The HCC was first introduced in 2000 to slightly offset the huge discrepancy tax individualisation created between one income and two income married couples. The increase is good, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.
The debate about childcare in Ireland is not really a debate at all because, as usual, it is dominated by one side, namely those who want a State-subsidised universal day-care system available to all. To this end, they heavily promote the ‘Nordic model’. In doing so, however, they fail to distinguish between different Nordic models.
It has now emerged that Pope Francis met briefly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who would not hand out marriage licences to same-sex couples because of her conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. He also met with the Little Sisters of the Poor who have also been involved in a religious freedom battle of their own. In doing so he has lent them a little bit of some of his very considerable moral authority.
In his Irish Independent this week David Quinn writes about an INTO and Minister of Education-backed programme for primary schools called 'Different Families, Same Love' that is radically at odds with Christian teaching on marriage and the family.
No less a figure than Steven Pinker, one of the world’s best known academics, has called it “one of the most important papers in the recent history of the social sciences”. He is referring to a paper which deals with what amounts to the ideological capture of the social sciences by the political left, and the consequences of this.
During what debate there was about the Government's Children and Family Relationships Act, which allowed for egg and sperm donation to anyone and everyone (donor-assisted human reproduction or DAHR), those who supported the bill had a sort of mantra that could have been taken from the Beatles. When it comes to raising children, “love is all you need.” There's no right to be raised by your natural parents, or even a presumption that it's a good idea all else being equal: what a child really needs, by this account, is one adult who loves them. After that, nothing else matters. A second parent brings nothing a lone parent can’t bring. A mother doesn't matter, a father brings nothing in particular. All you need is love. Two recent stories throw some doubt on this picture.
A poll conducted by website MummyPages.ie and RecruitIreland.com looks at the attitude of mothers towards childcare. Media coverage of the poll focused on the finding that 45 percent of mothers said the cost of childcare prevented them returning to work. This would indicate a clamour for State-subsidised childcare. In fact, the findings of the poll were much less straightforward than that.
Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland has outlined his wishes for Irish schools in The Irish Times. If implemented they would result in the effective elimination of every denominational school in the country, bar a few privately-funded ones. If you strip down his vision to its core, it is based on the delusion that it is possible to run a school on the basis of an all-inclusive ethos.
Between October 2007 and December 2011, 100 people went to a clinic in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region with depression, or schizophrenia, or, in several cases, Asperger’s syndrome, seeking euthanasia. The doctors, satisfied that 48 of the patients were in earnest, and that their conditions were “untreatable” and “unbearable,” offered them lethal injection; 35 went through with it. These facts come not from a police report but an article by one of the clinic’s psychiatrists, Lieve Thienpont.
The other day sociologist Tony Fahey was interviewed on Today with Sean O’Rourke (Keelin Shanley standing in) about marriage in Ireland twenty years after the divorce referendum. During that referendum there were the usual accusations and counter-accusations but in some respects both sides were wrong about what would happen. The anti-divorce side warned that allowing divorce would open the way to British-style divorce levels with the big caveat that this would only happen over time and not overnight. It’s true that it didn’t happen overnight, but so far it hasn’t happened at all. Twenty years on the rate of divorce in Ireland remains very low by Western standards.
It gives me no pleasure to note that social and legal situation around same-sex marriage is continuing to obey what writer and blogger Rod Dreher christened the “Law of Merited Impossibility”, which goes something like this: “legalising same-sex marriage will result in no negative consequences for religious liberty or freedom of conscience - and those bigots will deserve it everything they get.” An article in Christianity Today from three law professors, titled (somewhat optimistically) "How to Protect Endangered Religious Groups You Admire",makes the case for a First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), to protect religious groups who take stances deemed 'unacceptable' from being penalised
Church-run schools, and more specifically Catholic-run schools, are under the spotlight again as a new school year approaches. There is criticism of the slowness of the bishops in handing over a set number of schools to other patron bodies such as Educate Together. However, as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (pictured) has pointed out, when a particular school is designated for transfer, there is often a lot of local opposition.
The Department of Children has just released a report, Future Investment in Childcare in Ireland, suggesting different ways in day-care becomes more affordable for working parents. Some of the proposals, such as those to extend paid parental leave from six months after the birth of a child to a full year, are very welcome. But others are simply unfair, and the logic that undergirds the whole report too often puts the views of NGOs and the State on what is best for children above the wishes of parents.
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