Children all over Ireland are preparing to make their Holy Communion. For those of you unaware, the Holy Communion is a religious ritual that means ‘togetherness’ and usually denotes unity among Christians. In schools, children go through religious instructions, songs and prayers before completing this ritual in a large ceremony. Often more than not it is now accompanied with parties, presents and money. As anybody else who wasn’t born on another planet, we all know that 99% of the children doing it also associate it to money. So the question has to naturally be posted:
- Is it appropriate to indoctrinate children who basically cannot realistically make an informed decision about their choice of religion?
- What is the point of it, if it’s participants don’t grasp or understand what they are being inoculated into?
These are the two ‘primary’ issues, there are some subsidiary issues. For instance peer pressure and the fear of being left out of class activities functions as a very large factor. Apathy and a “go with the flow” type attitude, is also, a prevailing view. There are of course other subsidiary issues and I’d imagine they’d crop up throughout the course of this piece. On the Opinions Matter show, you can find many comments on the thread regarding communion: https://www.facebook.com/adriankandjeremyd/posts/571615577651130
The issue, plainly put, is whether it is appropriate for children to be indoctrinated in state funded institutions into a religion?
A very subjective area, so naturally hard to tell. If the objective is to build a country that separates state and church, then religious programs and curriculums should realistically have no place in school. Consider the uproar, if all 8 year olds had to go through religious instruction of multiple religions, or religions that people have prejudices against (such as Islam).
A lot of people cite the humanistic teachings behind Christianity as reasons they want their child baptized which is not an unreasonable position. The natural response to this is that humanistic teachings and moral values are not monopolised by religion, and being a decent person, exercising certain moral values to a harmonious, peaceful and happy society doesn’t require religious influence or instruction. In fact, there are plenty of past and present examples of happy secular societies with humanistic and positive values enshrined in their cultures and communities.
One of the prevailing arguments in favour of communion is that this is the culture and tradition of this country. That is true, Ireland has been a Catholic country for a long time. A separate discussion is to be had as to whether the Roman Catholic Church has been a friend to the people of Ireland, but the most essential point here is that we now formally subscribe to the idea of separating Church and State. Said separation should come in a much more substantive way than allowing the continued religious instruction of children.
Not only would would it be deeply objected upon were it any other religion, it also sounds, and is extremely weird when you break it down into smaller components.
Your child has time taken from school, to learn the songs of a religious institution with a very big closet full of skeletons, to have anti-scientific information spoon fed to them and then to engage in a ritual (that’s what it is regardless of what you call it) to bind them further into the religion. This all takes weeks and is specifically removed from the over-all school curriculum.
In practice, religious indoctrination through school amounts to taking away the informed consent of children to make when they’re older and more aware of what religious practice entails. My suspicion is that if you removed communion-confirmation, the number of registered Catholics, and general views associated to Catholicism would rapidly decline. Naturally, for a wealthy, secretive and controlling organisation such as the Roman Catholic Church this poses a huge problem. To achieve the separation of church and state, but also to vindicate the right of people to be able to choose their religion to worship, religious indoctrination in the education system should be removed.
In place of religious instruction, the time spent learning prayers and religious songs could be spent learning essential things that actually matter, or assisting children who are behind on certain subjects to catch up.
Humanistic theories about fairness, kindness and justice could be taught in a secular manner that have nothing to do with religion. We already see this through many children’s books and stories that are secular in nature and give moral lessons about bullying, friendship and kindness. Would it be that hard to have humanistic classes on these subjects that aren’t tied to religion and anti-scientific bollocks about the earth being flat or Adam and Eve creating all humans?
This wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive study of religious inoculation in schools, more of a brief commentary on the absurdity of having religious instruction foisted on children. They should certainly learn about religion, but through the prism of historical study, rather than as part of a choice less journey into a religious institution.