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Atheist Student Forced to Attend Prayer Service in Multi-Denominational School

Cato

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A young Irish atheist has made an official complaint after his school forced him to attend a multi-denominational prayer service.


Teenager Nathan Young has complained to the Irish Human Rights Commission that his vocational education committee (VEC) school breached his human rights.


The 16-year-old student at Borrisokane community college in Tipperary has demanded that the school principal apologize and promise not to make religious events mandatory for students in the future.
Irish atheist student says school forced him to attend prayer meeting | Irish News and Politics spanning the US, Ireland and the World | IrishCentral

The report above is based on a story from the Sunday Times.

He was refused permission to leave the service by the acting deputy vice-principal who told him it was a ‘multi-denominational event for all religions’.


Young disputes a claim by one of the religion teachers who wrote the service’s programme that it was for ‘Christians or atheists or agnostics or whatever’.


He claims God was mentioned 28 times and Jesus six through-out the service, which included three hymns, two Bible
readings and references to baptism and the Eucharistic Congress.
One of the best reflections on the story comes from a contributor to a poorly contributed to (in numbers terms) site called the Irish Catholics' Forum from what looks like one of the main contributors to the site, hibernicus:

Irish Catholics' Forum - Irish Catholic Forum vs Atheist.ie

The first thing I have to say is that Mr Young has indeed been treated disgracefully and he should have been allowed to opt out of the assembly. His being compelled to attend it was as outrageous as forcing a Jew to eat pork or a Mormon to drink coffee, and this would hold true even if the school was explicitly denominational instead of being multidenominational or nondenominational.

...

The second thing that strikes me is the complete cluelessness of the teachers responsible for this outrage. It is quite clear that they were not oldstyle bigots but modern lowest-common denominator liberals, and their spirituality is of the "warm and fuzzy whatever you're having" variety. This is exactly the problem - because they do not see religion as something which involves truth-claims, they do not realise that anyone could legitimately object to participating in their multidenominational service any more than they could legitimately object to reading fiction in English literature class. They don't realise that some religious commitments/positions are mutually exclusive and that to hold one necessarily rules out another, and because they see things this way they persecute Mr Young without realising that is what they are doing, just as I am sure they would persecute a fundamentalist Protestant or traditionalist Catholic who objected to attending the service.
As he notes, the school itself is at fault as no one should be forced to attend a religious service against their will and this applies to young adults too. Secondly, the teachers and principles do not seem in any way aware that there is any contest for the truth present here: it is simply a smorgasbord of relativism (albeit with the food on offer all having a tang of christianity off it).

This kind of issue is going to come up with greater frequency in our schools and it will be present in primary schools as well where the parents will make the choices. The Constitution grants one the right to not receive religious instruction in a state funded school. How long before a test case occurs?

Finally, even if a plurality of patrons and types of school becomes more common following Quinn's recent initiative some areas will still only be able, because of population or an overwhelming majority, be able to offer one type of school and that is most likely to be a RC ethos one. How will children whose parents do not want them to receive religious instruction be accommodated in a way that does not exclude them in any harmful fashion?

The student in the story above has said that he would be happy with an apology, but it would be interesting to see him take a case.

 


Hewson

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It might be interesting for you to see him take a case, Cato.

But, honestly, life is too short . . .
 

Cato

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It might be interesting for you to see him take a case, Cato.

But, honestly, life is too short . . .
As I said, it seems that he would be content with an apology from the school and I imagine that they will provide him with that.

It's all kinds of mental that this occurred in what claims to be a multi-denominational school but VECs around the country have been criticised before for their failure to fully implement that ideal.
 

storybud1

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Complete moron, just attend the meeting, you don't have to believe in it and then go about your business. Life is not fair and you have to learn to take the crap along the way,
He is 16 so probably one more year and he can do whatever he wants.

Human rights ? don't make me laugh, how many Muslim girls in Europe married non Muslims recently? you will never hear the human rights shower tackle that one.
 

Hewson

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As I said, it seems that he would be content with an apology from the school and I imagine that they will provide him with that.

It's all kinds of mental that this occurred in what claims to be a multi-denominational school but VECs around the country have been criticised before for their failure to fully implement that ideal.
I agree, it shouldn't have happened and an apology is called for out of respect to the young man. But personally I can't envisage being overly upset if I had been 'obliged' to attend an initiation ceremony at an atheist's summer camp against my will.

There are bigger crimes going on.
 

pragmaticapproach

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Irish atheist student says school forced him to attend prayer meeting | Irish News and Politics spanning the US, Ireland and the World | IrishCentral

The report above is based on a story from the Sunday Times.



One of the best reflections on the story comes from a contributor to a poorly contributed to (in numbers terms) site called the Irish Catholics' Forum from what looks like one of the main contributors to the site, hibernicus:

Irish Catholics' Forum - Irish Catholic Forum vs Atheist.ie



As he notes, the school itself is at fault as no one should be forced to attend a religious service against their will and this applies to young adults too. Secondly, the teachers and principles do not seem in any way aware that there is any contest for the truth present here: it is simply a smorgasbord of relativism (albeit with the food on offer all having a tang of christianity off it).

This kind of issue is going to come up with greater frequency in our schools and it will be present in primary schools as well where the parents will make the choices. The Constitution grants one the right to not receive religious instruction in a state funded school. How long before a test case occurs?

Finally, even if a plurality of patrons and types of school becomes more common following Quinn's recent initiative some areas will still only be able, because of population or an overwhelming majority, be able to offer one type of school and that is most likely to be a RC ethos one. How will children whose parents do not want them to receive religious instruction be accommodated in a way that does not exclude them in any harmful fashion?

The student in the story above has said that he would be happy with an apology, but it would be interesting to see him take a case.

Its reasonable to expect him to attend during school hours, but he shouldnt be compelled to participate.
 

stopdoingstuff

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Seems to me like his rights were violated. He is probably delighted about it. All jeering aside though, it is basically wrong to force him to attend and I hope the school issues him with an apology.
 

mary_queen_of_the_gael

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College Staff

School Chaplains: Canon. S. Neill, Fr. M. Cooney, Sr. N. Hartigan.
Special Needs Assistants: A. Ryan, S. Brennan, C. Stakelum, G. Hennessy.
As they have quite a few special needs teachers, we can feel confident Mr Young's special needs are being catered to. God help the teachers having to deal with these sad types.

I notice the Buddhists do not have a chaplain. Would that be because the kids are almost all CoI or RCC, a few blow ins excepted?
 

Roman Emperor

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Seems to me like his rights were violated. He is probably delighted about it. All jeering aside though, it is basically wrong to force him to attend and I hope the school issues him with an apology.
Let us hope and pray that he makes a full and speedy recovery following his traumatic ordeal.
 

potholedogger

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How can any school set about having a multi denominational service that can be inclusive if religion is brought into the matter?
 

potholedogger

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As they have quite a few special needs teachers, we can feel confident Mr Young's special needs are being catered to. God help the teachers having to deal with these sad types.

I notice the Buddhists do not have a chaplain. Would that be because the kids are almost all CoI or RCC, a few blow ins excepted?
Who is paying for the school chaplains?

What qualifications do they need?

Do they have to have approved superstitions?
 

Hewson

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How can any school set about having a multi denominational service that can be inclusive if religion is brought into the matter?
A Richard Dawkins Appreciation Hour every Wednesday might do the trick.
 

Dadaist

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As they have quite a few special needs teachers, we can feel confident Mr Young's special needs are being catered to. God help the teachers having to deal with these sad types.

I notice the Buddhists do not have a chaplain. Would that be because the kids are almost all CoI or RCC, a few blow ins excepted?
 

Cato

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A Richard Dawkins Appreciation Hour every Wednesday might do the trick.
An hour dedicated to teaching formal logic would be a far better use of time.

I'd love to see philosophy taught in schools.
 

councilkid

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It might be interesting for you to see him take a case, Cato.

But, honestly, life is too short . . .
No, it should be interesting for everyone. A child should be allowed to receive an education without enduring religious indoctrination. Let them make up their own minds about becoming part of any religion once they've reached a level of maturity where they can understand the concepts involved.
 

stopdoingstuff

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I sympathize with him. I was an atheist in a Catholic school and it annoyed me greatly when I had to attend various services. I will say one thing for my school though- the priests were very respectful of my views, didn't force me to attend when they knew how I felt, and never in any way treated me as less of a person or gave me any undue hassle. This is how it ought to be.
 

Half Nelson

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It's a school ffs! We all had to do stuff we didn't like in school. Or is it the case that all tastes must be accommodated at all times in order to avoid trampling on "human rights".

All he had to do was sit down and shut up; or is that too much to ask?
 

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