In a major rebuke to the Catholic Church, Ireland recently voted to repeal the country’s strict ban on abortions. Now the government is pushing back against the Church by ending the practice of giving preferential treatment to elementary school students who are baptized.
The majority of schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church, and they’re allowed to discriminate based on baptisms (or lack thereof), but all that could change thanks to a school admissions bill that recently passed the lower house of the Irish parliament. The bill is expected to pass the upper house this month, barring schools from discriminating based on “religious ethos,” according to the New York Times.
Under the existing system, the Roman Catholic Church controls 90 percent of Ireland’s public elementary schools, owning the property and appointing school boards and principals, even though the government pays the bills. Many non-Catholic parents, particularly in small towns and rural areas, find they have no choice but to send their children to local schools teaching Catholic faith formation.
And in years where the school intake is oversubscribed, a “baptism barrier” permits the school to refuse a place to a local non-Catholic child if a Catholic child — even one from outside the area — has applied for the same spot.
This is clearly a broken system. The Catholic Church, which has been fighting its own scandals involving child sex abuse and cover-ups for years, shouldn’t control the majority of schools anywhere. The fact that they have this much power, and give preferential treatment to children who mirror their beliefs, has long been a crisis. The Irish government has allowed the Church to alienate people of minority religions and atheists alike while keeping the country on a path toward unmitigated theocracy.
Read the full story at Patheos