They still had to sit in class during the prayers. They spent time sitting in the church during prep. for Communion and Confirmation. Whatever their views were, they just weren't respected at all.
That is the word to use ‘respect’,-
- a religious integrated curriculum does not ‘respect’ the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents. Maybe explaining how parents and children are disrespected and denied their human rights might help in coming to a decision on this subject.
In relation to religion and education the word ‘respect’ has a legal meaning and AI are using that meaning to fight for change.
The word ‘respect’ is in the Education Act 1998 and it is also in Article II of Protocol I of the European Convention on human rights and it relates specifically to the issues of opting out of religion etc. It is also part of all the various UN Treaties that Ireland has ratified and it is now part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights under the EU.
The Irish State are claiming that a religious integrated curriculum ‘respects’ the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents and that consequently they are in compliance with all their various human rights obligations.
However the European Court of Human Rights has defined exactly what ‘respect’ means in relation to religious and philosophical convictions in education and when we look in detail at the issue they are not in compliance:-
The European Court has stated that “The verb “respect” means more than “acknowledge” or “take into account”. In addition to a primarily negative undertaking, it implies some positive obligation on the part of the State. The term “conviction”, taken on its own, is not synonymous with the words “opinions” and “ideas”. It denotes views that attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance”
So in relation to your local school the question to ask is how do they ‘respect’ my philosophical convictions?
Do they acknowledge that we even exist?
Do they more than ‘take us into account’ (for example when the class is saying prayers) and taking religious instruction?
As ‘respect’ means that our philosophical convictions must be more than taken into account how does the school protect our child from the religious ethos (atmosphere) of the school that permeates the whole school day?
The answer to the above questions can only be that the school does not ‘respect’ you as they can legally influence your child into a religious way of life.
There are not many cases in the Irish Courts with regard to education but in one of the cases Campaign to Separate Church and State v Minister for Education the court said that a religious denomination is not obliged to change the general atmosphere of its school merely to accommodate a child of a different religious persuasion.
The general atmosphere in denominational schools is a religious atmosphere and the purpose of a religious (ethos) or atmosphere is to influence children into a religious way of life. Therefore a denominational school is not legally obliged to change that atmosphere (ethos) in order to respect the philosophical convictions of non-religious parents who have no option but to send their child to that school. This is reflected in policy and regulations and of course the Education Act 1998. Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools obliges the Board of Management to integrate religion into all subjects and the Education Act obliges Boards of Management to uphold the ethos of the patron which in 92% of schools in the state is Catholic.
Now the ridiculous thing about this is that the Education Act 1998, Section 15 – 2 (e) also obliges the Board of Management to respect diversity and the ways of life in a democratic society.
This of course tells us that in Ireland ‘respect’ means that your child can be influenced into a religious way of life despite the fact that as a parent it is your philosophical conviction that he/she not be so influenced. It tells us that despite opting your child out of religion he/she can end up reciting prayers or just accepting without question that there is a God as there is no practical way of opting out of the religious ethos (atmosphere) of the school.
When we look at what the European Court and the UN have defined as exactly what ‘respect’ means on the ground we can determine that we are not ‘respected’ and are discriminated against because we have no religion in the education system.
So on the ground then when you enrol your child in the local school which is nearly always Catholic you can expect to be ‘disrespected’ because of your philosophical convictions and your child will leave their human rights at the school gate on the way in every morning. These are the ways of life in the Irish Republic where the majority accept that it is simply not an issue if your child ends up reciting prayers and you are just a trouble maker if you speak out. Shut up and put up with it as we are the majority around here and let us get on with teaching the next generation that diversity and human rights mean that it is ok to coerce and influence minorities into the Catholic religion.