HomeNewsSchools should not avoid criticising religion, say humanists

Schools should not avoid criticising religion, say humanists


cross-silhouette1 THE Mid West Humanists say they do not believe that schools and society should be obliged to respect any culture or religion, following reports that parents complained to a Limerick city school after Muslim pupils were offended by a magazine.

It was widely reported recently that the mother of a fifth class pupil at the Limerick School Project complained that her son was offended after another pupil brought in a copy of French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, with a picture on the front page depicting the prophet Mohammed.

MWH, an atheist community with members in Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, said it “agrees fully with respect for all people, but disagrees entirely with the idea of an obligation to have respect for any culture”.

The group also says that shielding children from the open discussion of ideas that they may hold, or consider holding, “is infringing the right of the child”.

A spokesperson for MWH said: “We do not support the present Constitution and law that makes public disrespect for religion a crime. It is quite an anomaly that it is entirely legal to criticise the food, clothes, and music elements of any culture, and most people would not dream of a law or even of a social convention not to criticise them, but the law and indeed the Constitution of Ireland make criticism of the religious element of a culture a crime.”

The group acknowledges that it is “a delicate matter” for teachers to deal with subjects that may be sensitive to pupils, but that schools “certainly should not teach children to have a general respect for any culture or any aspect of culture”.

The MWH added that schools and adults should teach children to have respect for others, and to use diplomacy in deciding when to criticise an element of a culture, “but not to set a rule to always avoid criticising any particular part of culture, including religion”.

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