Those who are not religious or no longer practice a faith should be sure to include “no religion” on next month’s Ireland census form, the Irish Humanist Association urged. Jillian Brennan of HAI says it is important that the category of “no religion” should emerge clearly from the census statistics, to ensure “a more inclusive future for all Irish citizens”.
irm atheists, like my colleague here on these pages, Ian O’Doherty, should have no problem ticking the “no religion” box. Atheists are absolutely certain of their beliefs, so it’s all simple. People of faith will depend on whatever they specifically adhere to, whether Christian – Catholic, Anglican, or Non-religious – Islam, Judaism or Buddhism. But perhaps many people don’t see it as a black and white question.
Individuals may not be believers in the orthodox sense of the word, but they may have their own form of spirituality. Many agnostics humbly say, “I don’t know.” An agnosticism runs through the work of one of our greatest writers, John McGahern, yet he has a reverence for the “sacred thing,” which often touches him. active in his hometown, in Co Leitrim, and he chose to have a Catholic Funeral, thankfully, late, close to his mother’s faith.
There were certainly dead Christians and Catholics ordering food. Ambiguity and uncertainty about whether we stand between beliefs, suspicions, and even atheism often pervades great philosophers. Schopenhauer calls himself a “mystic atheist” – the physical world is not enough. According to philosopher John Grey, Spinoza was an “accepting atheist”.
Writer Nuala O’Faolain seems to be in similar territory. When she learned her cancer diagnosis was fatal, she gave an unforgettable interview with Marian Finucane on RTÉ radio. Nuala is stunned to think that she is approaching death – like all of us – and tells Marian that she does not believe in an afterlife. Then Marian asked her if she believed in God. Ah, now, Nuala says: that’s another question, she left it off.
Likewise, I have met many people who cannot accept the principles of faith, but are conscious of the spiritual dimension of life. Many thinkers have a deep respect for inspirational religious thinkers throughout history, from Saint Augustine to John Henry Newman, from Mother Julian of Norwich to Soren Kierkegaard.
Religion, John Gray says in Seven Types of Atheism, is natural for men and women: atheism is itself based on religious thinking and is “the continuum of monotheism”. Humanism arose from the Italian Renaissance in the 13th century, rediscovering the virtues of the classical world in the context of Christian society. That classical world, too, had a sense of the divine, and the greatest secular thinker Marcus Aurelius believed in the soul.
It would be unkind to assert that humanism is parasitic on religious ideas, but it is certainly indebted to the culture that Christianity has produced. In the Irish context, it is impossible to shape any sense of cultural development without a perspective of faith: as scholar Kevin Whelan has pointed out, the entire Irish landscape contains 1,500 years of faith.
To be sure, secularism has expanded in Ireland over the past 25 years – as it has throughout Europe. The census results reflect that trend, with the number of non-believers doubling between 2011 and 2016 – 10 per cent of Irish people were in the “no religion” category at the census. most recent population. This number will likely rise again in the 2022 census – it’s up to each individual to fill out the census form.
But the Irish Humanist Association seems to want to increase numbers in the “non-religious” category primarily for social policy reasons – so that secularism can be better reflected in the “state supply of health, child education and social care” and “Resource and Funding Allocation”. But isn’t this a bit manipulative?
To be sure, mentioning the “religion” section of the census should be an honest response to each person rather than eyeing the political aspects of social policy and subsequent funding.
There is one helpful religious practice everyone can adopt when pondering how to fill out a census form: “check your conscience”. Think hard about the problem and then proceed to address the question honestly. If “no religion” is the honest answer, then write that. If you are a person of faith, answer exactly that. But if you’re not a non-binary in the field and find yourself on a spectrum somewhere between belief, doubt, and seeking, answer as honestly as you can. Indeed, write “Jedi” if you like!
People have complained enough about being controlled by the Catholic Church: so don’t be fooled by the secularists whose sermons sometimes sound suspiciously like preaching. !
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/catholic-anglican-jedi-or-no-faith-why-you-should-complete-the-census-form-according-to-your-own-conscience-41400810.html Catholic, Anglican, Jedi or No Faith…why you should fill out the census form according to your conscience