This week’s rally against the FEA lawsuit brought out 10,000 people. If those people lived in Ireland, many would change their views. The Catholic Church runs almost all public schools in Ireland. It’s in their constitution. What does this mean for non-Catholics?
In today’s New York Times, there is a report of a growing movement to separate church and state. Here’s why:
- Students must be baptized to be admitted to public school.
- Almost all public schools are run by the Catholic Church.
- At least 1/2 hour per day is ‘devoted’ to religious training in Catholicism.
- Students who are not Catholic are put at the end of long waiting lists to get into school.
- Morning prayers and preparation for the sacraments are part of the day.
- Non Catholics seldom have any alternative place in a school to go during religious instruction.
- While regular church attendance is down to 14% in Dublin, parents often submit to baptism requirements to be able to enroll their children in school.
- Non Catholic parents face long school waiting lists and long commutes.
Irish law guarantees freedom of religion in public schools, but it also allows enrollment based on religious preference. In reality, parents have little choice.
Florida’s system of choice moves the educational system toward exclusion and religious, racial, and socioeconomic segregation. There is a lawsuit over this in Florida. There is also one in Ireland. Our founding fathers recognized this problem.
We need to reaffirm the need to keep church and state separate. When the shoe is on the other foot, as in Ireland, it hurts.