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Humanists seek ban on schools asking for baptismal certificates

Posted by Sally O'Brien, on 29/01/2015. Humanists seek ban on schools asking for baptismal certificatesTags: Education And Politics

The Irish Times reported this morning that The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) is calling for a ban on schools asking for baptismal certificates for new entrants. Currently Principals in state run schools under catholic patronage, can ask parents for baptismal certificates on all new entrants. Without a baptismal cert, parents may find their children may not be accepted to their local schools. The humanist group argue that this is putting pressure on non-religious families to get their child baptised.

Currently, 90% of state run schools in Ireland are under Catholic Church control, giving non-religious families and those of different faiths little choice when it comes to children’s education. The HAI are meeting next week with Enda Kenny and Minister for Education, Jan O'Sullivan, to address these education issues.

According to Joe Humphreys in the IT, “Brian Whiteside, director of humanist ceremonies, said “education is at the top of our agenda” for the meeting on Thursday.
“There is a new reality that has to be addressed. One third of couples are getting married in non-religious ceremonies. It’s reasonable to ask what sort of schools they want for their children.”

“There has been an awful lack of integrity and honesty in many areas of Irish life, and here you have young people being bullied into doing something totally against their conscience.”

According to the report, the HAI welcomed Prof John Coolahan, chairman of the forum on patronage and pluralism, comments to cut funding to schools who do not take ‘a proactive stance’ on moving towards secular education.


Ted Bradley

(06-02-2015 14:01)

This is a symptom of a bigger issue, that is Parents aren't entitled to a say in the welfare & education of their children. Parents ought to have a say and thereby cut out this blatant discrimination. As a side point statistical only 18% of people go to mass regularly (27/3/13) so people are voting with their feet regarding their religious convictions. Personal, I have no choice in what school I can send my daughters to as there is only one school.


(11-02-2015 21:54)

In my local primary school 100% of the funding comes from a combination of the Dept. of Education & Skills capitation and other grants and the parents fundraising efforts, the (Catholic) patron does not contribute at all. I think this is not unusual, I suspect the religious patrons who make up the shortfall in government funding are few and far between these days.

Patrick Gormley

(16-02-2015 00:37)

The rule that a baptismal cert must be presented before a child can be enrolled in a Catholic school insults not just those who want a secular education for their child and who feel that the child should make her or his own choice if she or he wants to be baptised. It insults children who deserve the chance to consider Catholicism in a Catholic school and THEN decide if they want to be baptised. It is no better than forced conversion for baptism in Catholicism obligates a child to the duties of being a Catholic including the duty to obey canon law.


(05-02-2015 10:06)

Ok - so if you want a 'Secular Education' and choose not to baptise your child - don't send your children to a Catholic school. As a practising Catholic and an Irish citizen I have an equal right to send my children to a school that openly expresses my families faith - without being attacked for chossing to express my beliefs by those of a Humanist and secular leaning.


(05-02-2015 12:31)

I think the problem for non religious families is the lack of non-church controlled schools. Rightly public schools shouldn't be allowed to discriminate based on religion(or sex, gender etc). Both religious and non religious people pay taxes to the education system.
Surely you wouldn't like your child rejected from your nearest school simply based on the fact that you are not Protestant/Muslim/Hindi etc?
It's (should be) your job to educate your children to a specific religion as indoctrinating others isn't really fair is it?
Lucky you are part of the majority and you can't seem to empathise with others.


(11-02-2015 00:41)

Just to point out there are no public schools in Ireland only private non fee paying and private fee paying schools both of which are partially state funded to different degrees. The government gives a set amount of money per child and the patron makes up the difference. The Catholic schools are owned and funded in part by the Catholic community so if you want the school to be changed to a secular school then you would want to have a secondary source of funding or be willing to pay more taxes. According to Educate together's website only 15% of their funding comes from the Government.

miriam soughley

(30-01-2015 18:35)

Is that not against the rights of all children in the state to an education? I seriously am confused.


(10-02-2015 21:22)

Teachers are paid by the Exchequer, to which we all contribute our taxes, whether we are religious or secular. Education is a public service paid for from those taxes, the same as provision of health services, public amenities etc. Our treatment in hospital does not differ depending on whether we are having a Catholic heart attack or a secular heart attack, likewise our entitlement to education should not be dependant on our religious beliefs or lack of beliefs.

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