Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic

There was a time when Ireland was for all practical purposes, a Catholic state. Divorce, homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives were all illegal. Books and films had to be approved by a censorship board which banned anything that was contrary to Catholic teaching (which turned out to be a lot). The Church ran almost all schools, hospitals as well homes for “fallen women” and forgotten children. Acting contrary to Catholic teaching meant shame and banishment. The state was guided by Catholic principles to such an extent that it was hardly noticed or commented on. That was just the way things were. Continue reading “Why Ireland Should Become A Secular Republic”

Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland

For generations the goal of Irish nationalists has been a 32 county United Irish Republic where the whole island is free of British rule. In theory all Irish political parties support this, even if there isn’t much they can do about it. With the centenary celebration of the 1916 Rising (and the War of Independence soon to come) there has been a celebration and an examination of national pride. In Northern Ireland, higher birth rates means that the number of Catholics is catching up with the number of Protestants and may soon over take it. This has led to a number of people to suggest that a United Ireland may soon happen.

However, the thought of a United Ireland doesn’t fill me with patriotism and I don’t see it as something to rejoice. If I was ever given a choice, I would vote against it. This might seem treasonous from someone who was raised as an Irish Catholic but the thought of a United Ireland fills me with dread and were it to ever happen, it could bankrupt the Republic of Ireland. A United Ireland would lead to crippling taxes, drastic reduction in services, widespread unrest and a return to the violence of the Troubles. Continue reading “Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland”

How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?

Now this question probably seems a bit pointless for a blog. Can’t you just Google the answer and be done? According to the 2011 Census, 3,861,335 people or 84% of the population of the Republic described themselves as Catholics. This figure is often used to describe Ireland as a Catholic country and to defend the role of religion in Irish society, ranging from Church control of the vast majority of schools, whether abortion should be kept illegal or the religious references in the Constitution (if you don’t know, the opening line is: “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred”). But if Irish people are overwhelming Catholic, then it seems obvious that Ireland would have a strong Catholic ethos. Continue reading “How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?”

In Memory Of Ann Lovett

Thirty years ago today, a 15 year old girl died giving birth alone in a grotto beneath a statue to the Virgin Mary. The scandal shocked conservative Ireland and cast light on a darker side of Ireland. An Ireland where to be unmarried and pregnant was a deep shame to be kept hidden. An Ireland where girls were forced to keep children they didn’t want and couldn’t raise. An Ireland where the judgement of the Church was to be feared. An Ireland where narrow minded dogma was held above the suffering of women. An Ireland where Mary was no protection for many girls abandoned and neglected by society. Continue reading “In Memory Of Ann Lovett”

The Future Of Religion

The religions of the world are in serious decline. Each generation is less religious than the last and the grip of the Church is being steadily weakened. Ireland used to be the most religious country in Europe, yet even here religion is being eroded away. The simple fact is that religion’s future is one of decline into insignificance as the older generations die off and young fail to take their place. Churches are facing a crisis in even finding members to join as priests and the closing of churches will soon be a common sight. Within 50 to 100 years religion will be but a shadow of what it once was, a mere footnote belonging to a forgotten time. Continue reading “The Future Of Religion”

Why People Are Religious

On this blog I regularly criticise religion and point out why I think it’s incorrect. Yet there are billions of religious people. Why? Why do they believe and I do not? Why are they convinced? When it comes to debates, Atheists have a huge advantage in that they (mostly) were once religious and can therefore understand how their opponent thinks. So I don’t view myself as raging against incomprehensible fools caught in their delusions, but instead try to understand why people have different beliefs to me. In my opinion the main reasons people are religious is due to the default way that they were raised, social reasons, fear, explanation of the world and because they wish it was. Continue reading “Why People Are Religious”

Legacy Of The Catholic Church

It is said that when Ireland received its independence from Britain in 1921 it handed it over to the Catholic Church. For the next seven decades the Church dominated Irish life and shaped it to suit its teachings. While Ireland never became a theocracy, it came pretty close. Irish politicians of all parties declared their loyalty to the Church and gave the hierarchy unquestioned influence over policy. Politicians declared themselves Catholics first and Irishmen second. And what was the result of this influence? A stagnant society dominated by narrow mindedness sectarian pettiness. A socially suffocating society where all common sense and flexibility was abandoned in place of rigid dogma. An authoritarian atmosphere where all signs of modernity were repressed. Where brutality was condoned and ignored and unimaginable cruelty was shown to women and children, the extent of which is only coming to light now. This is the legacy of the church. Continue reading “Legacy Of The Catholic Church”