Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Huzzah! Success! (of sorts)

Since the publishing of my post called(admittedly quite poorly) “Criticism of the Borrisokane Community College Prayer Service.” I have not received an apology from the school, but have had success in gaining some attention, conscious raising if you like. I'm not saying this for the sake of gloating (Although there is that), but rather because I feel the question is an important one, and we should be discussing it. There are a number of questions to be raised, but first: the boasting.

I requested that Atheist Ireland share my blog, and I also asked for advice. Gabrielle Monaghan, a journalist who found out about this via twitter requested an interview on Thursday. The article which included excerpts from the interview was published in the Sunday times on the 21st. Here’s a link to the article, but you can't get the whole thing if you aren't a paying customer: The mention of the Irish human Rights Commission in the article is because I made a complaint after Jane Donnelly, education officer of atheist Ireland recommended it. Midlands 103 also interviewed me, and I'll share the podcast whenever it is released. For now, here is the homepage: I also got abused by some bigoted idiots here: and there was a slightly more reasonable discussion here:

There are certain two things that I should clarify, namely:
1. V.E.C. Schools aren't secular, they have Christian ethos but are supposed to make space for non-Christians. Remember that the V.E.C. Schools are the closest thing to state schools, receiving funding, from the tax payer, to preach. The “Teach don't Preach” campaign run by atheist Ireland continually shares news relating to the innate stupidity and sometimes bigotry that arises from this sort of stupid system.
2. I have had a long discussion with my principle about this, and I have to say feel a lot more disgusted at the compulsion of attendance, not less. He made points concerning, among other things, the fact that its nice to have the school community together at the start of the year, that they do at least now have a representative of the Anglican sect or church. I won't bother returning fire on either of these questions for two reasons, namely that it is unfair to attack him without his ability to defend himself, and because my objections should be immediately obvious.

I would like it if my principle apologises, not personally to me but to the school as I acknowledge, I was not the only one to ask to be elsewhere during this event. I have been in touch with the human rights commission on this, and although nothing is decided, I will accept an apology as sufficient and request that the Human Rights Commission take no further action on this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Criticism of the Borrisokane Community College Prayer Service.

This Blog was written after my being forced to attend a compulsory religious event in my school in Borrisokane, Ireland.

Secular, according to the Oxford dictionary, means “not connected with religious or spiritual matters”. That was, or so I thought, part of the ethics of a state school. Students were free to believe whatever they wanted and free from others forcing their ideas upon them. But no! Apparently religion can call a halt to normal school activity, with full support from the staff, and get special funding for a religious gathering. That being bad enough, it was also made a compulsory gathering.

My Class tutor had the decency to ask if there was any option to avoid attendance of the ceremony, and to try and understand my position, which is more than can be said of either the acting deputy principle or the staff involved in organising the event. The acting Deputy principle informed me that it was a “Multi-denominational event for all religions” and one of the religion teachers fatuously remarked that it can be for “Christians or atheists or agnostics or whatever”. These were both either lies or the teachers were ignorant of the programme contents. I find it hard to believe this as the religion teachers wrote the programme in the first place.

During the event four songs were sung, three of which were hymns. God (in the singular) was mentioned twenty-eight times. Jesus was named six times. There were two readings, both of them Biblical. Baptism, The Eucharistic Congress, the (catholic) year of faith and the kingdom of heaven all made their appearance. Christians and Christianity were mentioned six times, including a grotesque line from the prayer of the faithful calling the school community a Christian community. Faith was glorified four times, including “Our faith” referring to the school community. And this is just the official programme, not the sermon (delivered by one of the two Christian preachers to attend who were the only guest speakers!) This is not just non-secular but mono-religious and purely Christian. Nothing recognisable as non-Christian or secular humanist was mentioned.

If there is to be school sponsored prayer events in a secular school then the least that could be done would be to make attendance optional, but this did not happen. Although they are the majority, the Christians have no right to claim the entire school community as theirs, or force people to join their hollering. Neither, I should imagine, should many of them want to. The schools few but existing agnostic and atheist students should have been given the option of not attending. As should the even fewer Buddhists and assorted spiritualists, and of course the Christians themselves.
I will never attend a compulsory religious event with the school again, and the principle should apologise for making it compulsory and promise never to force students to attend religious events again.
Nathan Young.