This month, on the 24th of April, every household in Ireland will be filling out the census form. They’ll document every little detail about every person in the house that night – details of education, employment, religion, earnings, practically everything except for what they have for breakfast. This happens once every five years and gives the government information which they can then use to develop policies and allocate funds for development of things like schools, community amenities and various other schemes to improve society. It gives the state an honest picture of what it’s citizens look like. That is why I am finding it important to ensure my census form has the “No Religion” box ticked.
We in Ireland are in a strange system of living at the moment. Our society, for the most part, is secular, and has been becoming more so this way in the last 20 years than ever before. Our media has been filled with tales of horrific abuses within church-led organisations, regressive attitudes towards things like reproductive rights and same sex marriage, and somewhat of a wall being put up against changing to fit in further with our new century views within the way it has always been. Ireland is known through the world as being a Catholic country, a religious state, despite the fact that our percentage of Roman Catholic citizens has been dropping (a drop of 3% to 84% of population in last census, 2011) and attendance at churches is hitting all time low levels. There is, for the most part, a great deal of separation between Church and State – the two major ties remaining being the health system (in particular reproductive rights issues) and our education system. (more…)