Another religious education teacher said that there is a “general intolerance of the Christian worldview which needs [to be] addressed,” in Ireland, and many teachers noted that their students “profess no active faith.”
While surveys have shown that over 90% of Irish youth affiliate themselves with a religion, “Few students express active participation in their faith,” reported a teacher.
The report suggests that “young people identify as religious at some level, but may find it difficult to express them.”
The report found that teachers were most concerned about negative stereotypes regarding their Catholic students.
“Of the respondents who explained their answers, 50% voiced concern about anti-religious sentiment/behaviour such as ‘the lazy way that Muslims can be categorised as terrorists, and Catholics as paedophiles or supportive of such behaviour,’” said the report. The report added that these findings are not unique to Ireland and are found in many nations currently undergoing widespread secularization.
A third of teachers who expressed concerns about negative stereotyping of religious students said that Catholic students were their primary concern.
Teachers in the report blame a cultural shift towards secularism for why these students are being negatively stereotyped.
“A Catholic student is more likely to be ridiculed or laughed at for their faith position so they tend to be silenced by the prevailing trend towards a secular humanist worldview,” said one teacher.
Another added that Catholicism and Catholic values are viewed as “archaic,” and another said that “It is socially acceptable in Ireland to insult/belittle Catholics/Catholicism.”
In 1961, 94.9% of Ireland identified as Catholic. In 2016, that figure had dropped to 78.3%, with “no religion” making up the second-largest religious affiliation.
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.