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Atheist's challenge threatens Irish Catholic schools

February 02, 2011

Irish Catholic columnist David Quinn examines the odd case of an atheist who objected when his son was taught to pray—at a Catholic school.

The situation in Ireland is complicated by the fact that Catholic schools receive government funding. The Irish constitution, as Quinn points out, requires the state to respect parents’ religious beliefs (or, presumably, lack of belief), and to fund appropriate schools. Thus the state is apparently obligated to provide schooling for the family involved in this case.

But must that schooling occur in a Catholic institution? If Catholic schools are required to accommodate families that object to religious influence in order to receive government funding, then they cease to be authentic Catholic schools. The case, Quinn notes, forces Irish Catholics to “wake up to the fact that their schools are under threat.”


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  • Posted by: stpetric - Feb. 02, 2011 7:46 PM ET USA

    Not to be contrary, but the article notes that the child goes to "the only school in easy reach". If that's the case, and the parents don't really have a choice about where to send the boy, it would seem the school should make reasonable accommodations for the parents' preference. What's "reasonable," I guess, is the heart of the question.