Tag Archives: religion

Director Jonathan Miller’s fascinating documentary profile of ultra-Orthodox Jewish comic David Finklestein is the tale of a man looking to find his place in an alien world and using jokes as a means to do that.

Struggling to balance his love of stand-up with his strict religious lifestyle, Finklestein is forced to make a choice between his passion and his community.

He’s funny. You’ll like him.


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In advance of the census on Sunday evening, I would like to raise awareness regarding the CSO guidelines on how to answer accurately one question.

Question 12 asks, “What is your religion?” The CSO guidelines state: “This question is not about frequency of attendance at church or other place of worship. People should answer the question based on how they feel now about their religious beliefs, if any. The question is asking about the person’s current religion or beliefs and not about the religion the person may have been brought up with.”

The census results are used by the government (if we ever have one!) to inform policy and planning. Thus, an accurate portrayal of the country’s religious beliefs is essential, in particular to support change in the area of religious patronage of schools.

Selena Daly,
Dublin 6.

Counting on the Census (Irish Times letters)

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Further to RTÉ2’s launch of the Generation What survey for 18 to 34-year-olds across 12 European countries earlier this week…

Gareth Naughton writes:

We have already had a phenomenal response with more than 13,000 people participating on generation-what.ie and the numbers continue to grow.

The survey is already throwing up some very interesting results though it should be stressed that it is constantly evolving as more and more people respond to it.

Those who wish can complete the survey here

Previously: Oh God Y

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Castletory College in Limerick

You may recall how yesterday RTÉ’s Emma O’Kelly reported a father of a pupil in Limerick secondary school Castletroy College had requested that his daughter be able to opt out of studying religion in the school.

His request was initially rejected and he was told religion is a mandatory subject.

But, on further reflection, the school agreed last night to let the girl opt out of the subject.

However, even though she’s now allowed to opt out of the subject, she will still have to remain in the classroom while the subject is being taught.

RTÉ’s Emma O’Kelly writes:

“The school said it had a duty of care towards pupils, who needed to be supervised, and so this student would have to remain in the classroom.”

“But surely a school the size of Castletroy College – with 1,200 students – can provide some kind of alternative to youngsters who do not want to study religion? Surely out of 1,200 students this student is not the only one?

“Other schools have told parents that if they wish their child to opt out they will have to collect the child and care for them for the duration of the religion class. This is clearly unworkable.”

The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism recommended three years ago that the Department of Education develop a protocol to give clarity to primary schools on their responsibilities in this regard. It said the protocol should be accompanied by examples of good practice. This has not happened.

“… At both primary and second-level there appears to be a fear that if opting out of religion is facilitated in any way then it will become attractive, too attractive, even – perhaps – popular.”

“The ‘floodgates’ might open. But where would the harm be in that?”

If this is what parents – the primary educators of their children – want, some of them. If it’s what some young adults in second-level school want. If it’s a legal right, which it is, then surely it’s time the system accommodated that?

Blog: Religious Education opt-out highlights parents’ rights (Emma O’Kelly, RTÉ)

Previously: Simple Solution

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Castletroy College in Limerick

This morning, RTÉ reports that a father of a pupil in Limerick secondary school Castletroy College last week requested that his daughter be able to opt out of studying religion in the school.

His request was rejected and he was told religion is a mandatory subject.

The school is now looking into it further.

RTÉ reports:

“The law states that schools cannot require a student to participate in a subject that goes against their or their parents’ beliefs.”

“The Constitution also gives parents the right to withdraw their children from religious instruction.”

In an interview with RTÉ’s education correspondent Emma O’Kelly on Morning Ireland this morning, Paul D’Arcy, the father of the pupil, said:

“Over the last eight weeks, my daughter has been doing different subject, five or six different subjects, that they call options. You can opt to not do Home Economics, you can opt not to…you pick your language. Why isn’t religion studies dropped into that section of the schooling? Then there’s never a problem. It just becomes an option, simple as that.”



Listen back here

Limerick school to consider religion opt-out request (RTÉ)

Pic: Debs.ie

Map of religious countries

John Gallen writes:

Our census might disagree with this Win/Gallup study that says that 41% of people in Ireland are NOT religious…. with only 45% claiming to be so.

Choice quote from Guardian – “Jean-Marc Leger, president of Win/Gallup International, said globally an average of two-thirds of people still consider themselves religious. “Religion continues to dominate our everyday lives and we see that the total number of people who consider themselves to be religious is actually relatively high,” he said.”

Interactive map here.

UK One Of The World’s least Religious Countries (Guardian


In Ireland 89% of primary schools are run by the Catholic Church.

Eighty nine per cent.

A new church-commissioned report called Catholic Primary Schools in a Changing Ireland acknowledges some parents have “little or no choice but to send their child to a Catholic school”.

The document  states the church recognises the right of parents to opt out of religious instruction for their children.

But adds:  “the manner in which schools do this is subject to available resources”.

The report says schools should not exceed the 2.5 hours allowed weekly for religious education. It says schools should make clear to parents upon enrolment what being a Catholic school means. They should include information on the school’s religious education programme as well as procedures in dealing with parents who do not want their children to participate in religious education.
However, the document does not advise schools as to what procedures should be put in place, apart from outlining options they “may” wish to implement.

Good times.

Catholic Primary Schools in a changing Ireland – Sharing Good Practice on Inclusion of All Pupils (PDF)

Catholic Church publishes guidelines for inclusion of non-Catholics in its schools (RTÉ)

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According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)’s 2014 Freedom of Thought Report, 55 countries worldwide – including EU member states – have criminal laws restricting blasphemy. In 39 countries, it is an imprisonable offence, and in six, it carries the death penalty.

Interactive map here.

New campaign to end blasphemy laws worldwide launches ((Samira Shackle, Richard Dawkins Foundation)

((H/T: John Gallen)