roseanna wrote:Okay, finally, my question, which has no hidden agenda, I am just genuinely curious as to your opinions on this. Although living in Ireland now, I was brought up in a secular education system in England. What I've noticed on these boards here is a huge preoccupation with the Catholic Church in Ireland... the presence of Catholicism in modern Ireland is almost, shall I say latent - it appears that way to me anyway. When I knew atheists / agnostics in England, they just got on with it and didn't particularly feel the need to actively criticise others' religions / faiths - they had their philosophy and that was it. Is the situation different here in Ireland because of the Church-State relationship, and do you feel in any way that you have a mission / point to prove? If so, what is it? Again, I am genuinely curious because this aspect of atheism, etc. is new to me so I'm wondering if it is Ireland-specific.
I think that's a really good question Roseanna. I was born and brought up in England too, so I appreciate the difference you refer to from an atheist perspective. Back in England, being an atheist was never an issue for me as the vast majority of people I knew were of a similar mind to me. The state is secular. Society itself is by and large secular. And organized religion is pretty benign, it doesn't try to get into people's lives, most of the time. But Ireland is
different, almost stiflingly so.
Over on IrishCatholics, I posted the response below (slightly amended) to a question similar to your own:
living in a country where the edifice of the state, the legislature, the constitution, the schools, the TV stations and 90% of your family, your friends, your colleagues, and the rest of the population at large, hold to a belief system diametrically opposed to your own.
not being able to educate your children without having to feign adherence/sign up to a belief system you consider wrong.
having to make the same pretense to your family to keep them in blissful ignorance of your views.
having to comply with family and peer expectations to subject yourself to various religious ceremonies that go against your own beliefs.
your life being dominated/demarcated by the social, cultural and moral mores of this belief system.
having to keep your true feelings about your world view secret from your employers, friends, colleagues, family, community, for fear you may lose your job, a promotion, a sale, someone's trust, or otherwise be ostracized.
not even being able to choose a funeral that complies with your own world view, because of the insurmountable logistical problems and the risk of hurting your family.
having to pay taxes to support this belief system that you don't believe in, and even having part of your pay cheque foot the legal bill for the sexual abuse crimes perpetrated members of this belief system's hierarchy.
Well... that's a snap shot of reality for atheists in Ireland. Obviously not all of us experience all of these problems, but most of us have probably experienced some of them at some time. Things are changing now though, and atheists are feeling increasingly able to speak up. And because they are speaking up. You are hearing us.
The effect of living in a country where Church and State are effectively one, and where 90% of the people are Catholic, is incredibly stifling. Religion intrudes constantly into our lives in a way that it simply doesn't in the UK. And we get sent a bill to pay for this intrusion too.
So you are probably correct in pointing out this difference. But if you can imagine the situation reversed (e.g. having to provide a certificate of atheism to the school you want to send your kids to) perhaps you'll understand why.
“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. There is no free will. There are no variables. There is only the inevitable.” Chuck Palahniuk