Diversity and healing in Ireland – the trauma is Catholicism

Ireland’s government is moving forward with plans to end the Catholic Church’s monopoly of the nation’s primary school system. More diversity in institutions and ideas will be good for students. The change should promote healing in a country traumatized by the church’s cover-up of years of sexual abuse of children by rogue priests.

An initial government study last week identified 50 schools in Dublin and 43 towns where the demand for multi-denominational education was greatest and school control could be shifted to other sponsors, secular or religious. The government has not yet announced a timetable, emphasizing that the shift will be respectful of religious tradition but firmly nondiscriminatory. Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, foresees “radical change,” estimating that as many as 1,500 of the 3,169 schools controlled by the church will eventually be transferred to other sponsors.

Preferably secular. Understanding the material world has never been a handicap.

The study made no mention of the church’s plummeting reputation because of its failure to protect children and its long refusal to admit culpability. But the scandal, documented in blistering government investigations, can only have strengthened the resolve of reformers in the government of Prime Minister Enda Kenny. He closed the Irish embassy to the Vatican in November after criticizing Rome as riddled with “dysfunction, disconnection and elitism” when the Vatican denied any responsibility for the scandal.

…Surveys find only half of Irish parents want their children in religious schools. State control is favored by 61 percent of the population, according to The Irish Times. The government’s resolve to face up to a more diverse reality is good news for foreign-born residents, whose representation has tripled since 1991 to 17 percent of the population. It offers reassurance to modern Catholics who want a clearer break from the worst of the past.

Say “amen!”

Seminary opts for Generic clergy flavors

Meadville Lombard Theological School, a Unitarian Universalist seminary in Hyde Park, Chicago, hopes to join Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant institutions to train clergy together, including offering some shared courses where there is common ground…

Leaders say the interreligious approach heralds the future of theological education and could save financially strapped seminaries nationwide.

We live in an era when religious tribalism affects us every day,” said the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. “We need to learn to appreciate the traditions out of which we come and to live in an atmosphere of acceptance that goes way beyond tolerance. A seminary like this can help lead the way.”

Claremont School of Theology, a historically Methodist seminary in California, announced last month that it would add clerical training for Muslims and Jews to its curriculum this fall. Meadville Lombard and Andover Newton estimate it will take about a year to roll out its multifaith vision.

Although there are other seminaries that accept students of multiple faiths — Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park offers a master’s in theology with a concentration on interfaith dialogue — the new model is part of an effort to train students who will go on to serve as clergy of their own religious communities in the context of a diverse religious landscape.

It also demonstrates a growing awareness of the role religious differences play in global diplomacy.

What it really demonstrates is the failure of superstition to maintain itself in the face of splintering fundamentalism, ever-diminishing funds dividing the pie between more greedy little sects. And, perish the thought – a world where reason and science are beginning to overwhelm the remaining bastions of 19th Century religious ideology.

It may not feel like it in the several bible-thumping corners of American society still dependent on religion to replace education and thought in day-to-day life. But, that particular quackery also continues to shrink.

It’s a chuckle to watch this last ditch marketing hustle work its way through the system.

It’s like watching all the TV commercials switching over to Australian accents. Har!

Hey, preacher – leave those kids alone!

This week, the final phase of the atheist bus campaign will appear in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast – not on buses, but on billboards. Due to the amazing sums donated to the campaign fund by many Cif readers at the end of last year, we raised enough for a second wave of adverts – and the above posters will launch today.

When…we asked how the extra funds should be spent, one of the issues which came up repeatedly in the comments concerned the growth of of faith schools in the UK and the segregation of children according to their parents’ beliefs.

The atheist campaign team shared this point of view. However, rather than using adverts to try and campaign politically, we thought it would be more beneficial to try and change the current public perception that it is acceptable to label children with a religion. As Richard Dawkins states, “Nobody would seriously describe a tiny child as a ‘Marxist child’ or an ‘Anarchist child’ or a ‘Post-modernist child’. Yet children are routinely labelled with the religion of their parents. We need to encourage people to think carefully before labelling any child too young to know their own opinions, and our adverts will help to do that.”

Entirely too rational for the average American bible-thumper. Since their God speaks directly to them – even giving them tips on NASCAR racing and presidential elections – they feel mandated to inflict whatever fundamentalist crap they believe on any and every child at hand.