Policies

Religious education in Northern Ireland (1992)

  • Date / 1992
  • Location / Ireland
  • Location Ratified / Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Ratifying Body / World Humanist Congress
  • Status / Archived

The International Humanist & Ethical Union condemns the new Common Syllabus for Religious Education in Northern Ireland, which comes into effect in September, 1993.
This Syllabus should be condemned because:

  1. It is exclusive. The only religion studied in the compulsory core is Christianity. This is offensive to Muslims, Hindus, Jews and members of other faiths, as well as the 12% who, according to a recent poll, declare that they have no religion. It is against the interest of the children, who have a right to a broad education and the opportunity to learn understanding and tolerance towards those of differing beliefs.
  2. It fails to address the religious “divide”. No mention is made of the theological divisions between Catholicism and Protestantism, with the result that Ulster children will continue to grow up in ignorance of the other basic strand of Christianity. There is nothing to counter the widespread assumption, on the one hand, that the pope is the anti-Christ or, on the other, that Protestants are not real Christians.
  3. It is backward and simplistic. It adopts an obsolete, fundamentalist approach to the Bible, implicitly rejecting evolution, for example, and instead endorsing Adam and Eve, and reinforces a traditional Christian view of morality.
    We call on the British Government to reject this syllabus and replace it with a broader one, which includes the study of humanism and non-Christian faiths.

IHEU congress 1992

Suggested academic reference

'Religious education in Northern Ireland (1992)', Humanists International, World Humanist Congress, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1992

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