My local recycling centre keeps a section for books and DVD's that you can just take away with you. It's a great service but I don't know if it's common elsewhere.
On a recent visit I picked up a copy of Religion For Living, the junior cert religious ed. textbook. It is, not surprisingly, about 90% Catholic. I found it curious that the student who had owned the book had been very free with her highlighting marker, and it is easy to track the syllabus by following the highlighted passages. It is also possible to see what was not covered by her teacher: there isn't a single mark anywhere in the sections covering the other main religions included. It looks like the students were not given any instruction on Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism.
I'm sure that they were included in the textbook to make it appear that it was an inclusive course of religious education, but the highlighter shows that it was simply used to promote Catholicism. It never makes any statements which suggest that any particular belief is right or wrong, but from the amount of text devoted to Catholicism and the simplistic way other beliefs are treated it is hard not to come to conclusions about which is valid.
Here's just a few of the many passages that I found curious:
Libertarianism is the view that people should have the right to do as they please.
When people vote in free elections in a democratic society, it is inevitable that the voting patterns of citizens will reflect religious moral values to some degree. To this extent, there is a connection between the laws of the state and religious morality.
Human beings have a tendency to do what is wrong rather than what is right. They are more inclined to be jealous, selfish and rude than considerate, peaceful and kind. This is the effect of original sin.
The main point of contact between science and religion is that both accept that there is order and design in the universe. The world is just too complicated and too beautiful to have happened merely by chance. Take for example the human eye. The eye is a wonder of creation. A person of religious faith...can reflect on the perfection of the human eye and see the hand of God in it's creation. In this way science and religion complement each other (couldn't believe this was in there!)
Science and religion are two distinct and equally valuable forms of knowledge. One is not better than the other. They are just different. They both contribute greatly to our knowledge of the world.
There are vast areas of the human experience that are not suited to testing by the scientific method.
The miracles were signs. They helped people of faith to believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised by God.
Atheism, Humanism, Materialism and Libertarianism are all covered. And while the descriptions are not actively incorrect, a student having been through the broad interpretation of Catholicism would see the curt and perfunctory treatment of these views in only one way.
So, does anyone know if this course is supposed to be about religion in general of Catholicism in particular?
As yet I have not found a single case of a terrestrial animal which fertilises itself.
- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
(he obviously never went to Bray)