Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Discuss church-state separation issues that are relevant in Ireland.
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CitizenPaine
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Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Post by CitizenPaine » Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:43 pm

Once more Fintan O'Toole (Irish Times today, Aug 28th 2007) has gone straight to the heart of the matter. I can do no more than reproduce his article here:
The choice is simple: all or nothing

What was the first thing the Dáil did when it assembled in June after the general election? All the reports will tell you that the new term started with the election of the Ceann Comhairle. In fact, it started with a prayer, asking God to direct all the words and actions of its members. This is what happens at the start of every session of the Dáil and Seanad. It is so much taken for granted that no one even mentions it and the parliamentary reports do not carry the text of the prayer, writes Fintan O'Toole .

Christianity - and often a specific Catholicism - frames the functioning of the Irish State. The preamble to the Constitution invokes the "Most Holy Trinity". Article 44 commits the State to hold the name of Almighty God "in reverence". Juries and voters are sworn on the Bible, unless they specifically request another form of affirmation, so that a religious declaration, implicit or explicit, is central to the way a citizen performs the actions that define citizenship.

Public hospitals are heavily adorned with Catholic symbols. Religious schools are, for most people, the only schools their children can attend. It is impossible to be trained as a primary teacher outside a college owned and run by a Christian church. RTÉ, the State broadcaster, starts its main news bulletin a minute late in order to allow it to mark a specific Catholic religious practice, the Angelus.

The Army runs an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. It provides guards of honour for the inauguration of Catholic bishops. This is not just a quirky tradition - there is a specific Defence Force regulation under the Defence Act that lists, among the duties of the Army, the provision of guards of honour at episcopal and other ecclesiastical ceremonies. The Army's official celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising was presided over by the Catholic Bishop of Meath, Michael Smith.

The Garda organises Masses to mark the anniversaries of the opening of police stations. The Dublin metropolitan traffic division, for example, holds a Mass in Dublin Castle which has been attended by the President at least once in recent years. The Garda Commissioner, Noel Conroy, attended the Mass in Knock Basilica to mark the beatification of Mother Teresa, of whom, on her death in 1997, the Taoiseach informed the Dáil, "no one doubts the evident saintliness". Gardaí on duty, like the Taoiseach in the Dáil, wear ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday.

There are two ways in which a democratic republic can deal with religious and cultural diversity. The choice between them arises not from immigration, but from the very nature of democratic societies in which people have different beliefs and allegiances. That choice is simple enough: all or nothing.

The State can allow every public servant and every public institution to display and proclaim every lawful expression of religious identity. Or it can allow no public servant or institution to display any expression of religious identity. Either of these positions is sustainable. Typically, however, we are opting for an unjust, unsustainable and potentially explosive muddle.

Some expressions of religious identity - Christian and specifically Catholic - are not just permissible but practically mandatory in the public realm. Others, like Sikhs in the Garda Reserve wishing to wear turbans, are unacceptable.

For my own part, I do not think Sikh officers should be allowed to wear turbans, or Muslim officers allowed to wear hijabs. I entirely agree with Garda spokesman Kevin Donohue when he says that "the person standing in front of you should be representative of the police force - not a Sikh police officer, not a Catholic police officer, not a Jewish police officer".

Such a stance can be hard on Sikhs and members of other faiths, but it is the only way to avoid a Balkanisation of State services, not just in the Garda or Army, but in schools, hospitals, the Dáil and the courts. The preservation of a public realm that everyone enters equally as a citizen is a value of greater importance than any individual's right to express a personal identity while performing a State service.

The problem is that this State has absolutely no right to take such a stance. So long as we refuse even to discuss a non-sectarian education system, so long as we evoke a specific religious belief system in every aspect of our system of governance, we have no right to tell anyone that they have to keep their religion separate from their public function. Unless we are to practise naked discrimination, the logic of our current system is that our police officers can wear turbans, hijabs or Jedi light sabres - anything that is required by their faith. We also have to provide a range of religious schools in every community, all paid for by the taxpayer. We have to start Dáil sessions not with one prayer, but with at least 25 - one for each of the main religious groupings in the State - and with an atheist evocation of humanist principles.

Or we could just cop on to ourselves and start creating a public realm in which all religions are respected because none is invoked.

© 2007 The Irish Times
Excellent

CitizenPaine
The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (FitzGerald version)
IrishKnight
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Post by IrishKnight » Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:54 pm

I must find this email address and thank him...
artyfarty
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Post by artyfarty » Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:19 pm

Now that was well written :D
A little boy prayed for a bike. Then he realised God doesn't work that way so he stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

Carl Sagan - The Pale Blue Dot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M
Martha
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Re: Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Post by Martha » Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:00 pm

Fintan O'Toole wrote:
Or we could just cop on to ourselves and start creating a public realm in which all religions are respected because none is invoked.
I think it will be a while (couple more generations?) before the Irish people, per se, will actually cop on to the fact that we are still ruled by Rome, in effect.

It (the country) looks different on the surface, but the RC rot still corrodes the heart of the system; why else the call to prayer before start of parliamentary business? Why else the Angelus bells before the news? etc etc etc etc etc....
Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.

Woody Allen
IrishKnight
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Re: Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Post by IrishKnight » Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:35 pm

Martha wrote:Why else the Angelus bells before the news?
This is something that always (well after I became an Atheist) rubed my the wrong way. Whats more I had a little look at RTE's Programme Guidelines...
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote:No editorial or programming bias shall be shown in terms of gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or membership of a minority community
Clearly having the Angelus bell every day and mass every Sunday is in no way bias towards one religion *cough*
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: RTÉ’s Core Values

Reflect the diverse values of the people of Ireland, specifically cultural, including language, religion and regional needs across all age groups.
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote:The nine stated grounds whereby discrimination is illegal are gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Care in the Use of Language

There are Muslim, Hindu, Confucian and Jewish communities in Ireland as well as other religions that should be recognised and treated with respect.
hmmmm
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Religious Beliefs

...As many people regard their religious faiths as central to their lives it is important that the audience can find on RTÉ programmes that reflect the significance of religion in Ireland today. RTÉ will continue to broadcast religious services on both radio and television and will also provide programming dealing with religious and spiritual topics on a regular basis.
YET
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Respect for Diversity

RTÉ must reflect in its programming the diversity of culture, religion, political views, physical ability and disability, age, class, race and ethnicity and sexual orientation that exists in Ireland today. RTÉ must present an inclusive image of Ireland and not exclude marginalised groups.
While I dislike any religious programming, other than documentaries etc, on PUBLIC tv I say let them have their mass and bells...as long as they have the mass and bells of ALL religions...
Martha
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Re: Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Post by Martha » Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:47 pm

IrishKnight wrote:
Martha wrote:Why else the Angelus bells before the news?
This is something that always (well after I became an Atheist) rubed my the wrong way. Whats more I had a little look at RTE's Programme Guidelines...
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote:No editorial or programming bias shall be shown in terms of gender, age, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or membership of a minority community
Clearly having the Angelus bell every day and mass every Sunday is in no way bias towards one religion *cough*
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: RTÉ’s Core Values

Reflect the diverse values of the people of Ireland, specifically cultural, including language, religion and regional needs across all age groups.
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote:The nine stated grounds whereby discrimination is illegal are gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community.
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Care in the Use of Language

There are Muslim, Hindu, Confucian and Jewish communities in Ireland as well as other religions that should be recognised and treated with respect.
hmmmm
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Religious Beliefs

...As many people regard their religious faiths as central to their lives it is important that the audience can find on RTÉ programmes that reflect the significance of religion in Ireland today. RTÉ will continue to broadcast religious services on both radio and television and will also provide programming dealing with religious and spiritual topics on a regular basis.
YET
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Respect for Diversity

RTÉ must reflect in its programming the diversity of culture, religion, political views, physical ability and disability, age, class, race and ethnicity and sexual orientation that exists in Ireland today. RTÉ must present an inclusive image of Ireland and not exclude marginalised groups.
While I dislike any religious programming, other than documentaries etc, on PUBLIC tv I say let them have their mass and bells...as long as they have the mass and bells of ALL religions...
Thanks for those very interesting links, Irish Knight. They're so typical of the Irish (RC-contaminated) Status Quo, aren't they. Ah well, I'm at an age (still relatively young) where I can laugh at such things :lol:
Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.

Woody Allen
CitizenPaine
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Re: Fintan O'Toole hits the nail on the head...again

Post by CitizenPaine » Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:40 pm

IrishKnight wrote:
RTÉ PROGRAMME STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES 2007 wrote: Care in the Use of Language

There are Muslim, Hindu, Confucian and Jewish communities in Ireland as well as other religions that should be recognised and treated with respect.
It's getting more than a little annoying to be part of an invisable group: Non-religious. This is despite the fact that when all non-believing categories in the last census are added up, the group as a whole is the second largest in the state after Roman Catholicism.

CitizenPaine
The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (FitzGerald version)
randomcrisis
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Post by randomcrisis » Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:35 pm

I would urge the Muslim council of Ireland to have a call to prayer broadcast on national TV to see how far they ( RTE) would go. Or any other religious organisation for that matter. If we dont question these systems the we will never find out.
Martha
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Post by Martha » Tue Sep 25, 2007 1:04 am

randomcrisis wrote:If we dont question these systems the we will never find out.
The first system we Irish should question is the Roman Catholic system which has shaped the collective Irish psyche for centuries. When we start taking an HONEST look at that particular system, then we'll get somewhere. Recovering from trauma is not an easy thing, as an individual. Recovering from collective trauma is much more difficult...
Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.

Woody Allen
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