Separating Church and State

Forget about abolishing the Seanad. Fine Gael’s first act in office (next year…?) should be to introduce a constitutional amendment outlawing the payment of public money to any religious organisation. This would serve not only to draw a line (one would hope) under the historical abuse of children in care homes and elsewhere, but also force the immediate secularisation of the education system in the Republic, which is long overdue. The churches wouldn’t be able to sell their schools to the State under the amendment (even if the State could afford to buy them), but considering they were all built and maintained using taxpayers’ money in the first place, the only proper thing to do would be to donate them. Call it “compensation” if you will.

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3 thoughts on “Separating Church and State

  1. A thought on the whole abused children issue….where was the state? There is a lot of talk of ‘the Church did not investigate reports’. That is no surprise to me, and a doubt that it is to anyone else.

    What I want to know is, why were people bringing these reports to the church at all? Abuse is a civil matter, and should have been taken to the guards. (Or am I just ignorant, and it was taken to the guards, and they ignored it…which is a MUCH worse issue)

    And on the separation of church and state? Good idea, but the state and church seem to be Siamese twins, and separating them will be a long and difficult process. And simple constitutional amendment would either cause a whole bunch of collapses (schools mostly) or be so scary that no-one implements it anyway. Its not like abuse was ever legal, it was just never implemented, no change of law can affect that.

  2. It would appear that the guards did hear about it, and bumped the matter straight back to the church to deal with. Mindsets like that can only be changed through being constantly challenged, and by ensuring that the next generation understand where their forebears went wrong. You are right that this will be a long process.

    The single most effective thing the State can do (at this stage) is to ensure that those ultimately responsible for the mess are fired. That means removing the Church authorities from schools, care homes etc. with extreme prejudice and installing a “clean hands” management structure in its place. The State can no longer sit back and allow its responsibilities to be carried out by third parties with a proven track record of failure. I don’t see why the wholesale transfer of the education system into State hands would by itself cause any collapses. The teachers would still get paid, but the middleman would be cut out.

    (Yes, and those boys and girls in blue who averted their eyes should be fired and prosecuted too)

  3. Forget about abolishing the Seanad/

    Abolish? Or replace? One needs to have a second house, whose purpose is to make it as difficult as possible for the government to pass any laws. Different debate…

    outlawing the payment of public money to any religious organisation.

    I’m in two minds on this. OT1H, charities may be better at delivering certain functions at a local level than remote government departments, and this rule would prevent the likes of Christian Aid and the Salvation Army from participating. OTOH, the very act of becoming dependent upon government money makes them “fake charities”, and thus corrupts their purpose to serve the political whims of their new paymasters, e.g. by astroturfing.

    In the case of welfare/tackling poverty, my preferred solution would be for government to eliminate ALL means-tested benefits, to have a flat rate citizens basic income for everyone (so no-one starves), and leave everything else to private charities, insurance, mutual/friendly societies, etc. This would both eliminate the disincentives to working caused by benefit withdrawal, and force those who need extra help to act in a way that persuades others to voluntarily give to them, instead of feeling they are “entitled” to have everything paid by government. Education? I would go for a voucher system (i.e. government funding to be bottom up, rather than top down), and get the government out of the business of owning thousands of schools and directly employing hundreds of thousands of staff.

    they were all built and maintained using taxpayers’ money in the first place,

    Maybe so, but who legally owns them?

    the only proper thing to do would be to donate them. Call it “compensation” if you will.

    In this case, one can definitely argue this. However, one must be extremely wary of allowing government to seize private property without due process of law. Once that starts, where will it stop?

    who averted their eyes should be fired and prosecuted too

    Absolutely, in the church and all relevant government agencies.

    This would serve not only to draw a line (one would hope) under the historical abuse of children in care homes and elsewhere

    Draw a line on this particular history of abuse. However, a secular care system is also vulnerable, albeit on a smaller scale, more localised basis.

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