The Irish Times

Baptism, faith and education

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A chara, – The debate concerning education in this country has descended into a propaganda war against the current system. I mean by this that untruths and half-truths more often than not take the place of facts and rational argument. We have only to look at the more common accusation­s made against our school system to demonstrat­e this.

It is called discrimina­tory, without ever making a proper case as to why it is unjust for schools that were founded to cater for a certain ethos to prioritise children of that ethos when the government fails in its duty to provide sufficient places in a particular area; it is called sectarian with no proof offered as to why parents’ natural desire to see the values they hold dear instilled in their children should be described as such; it is called undemocrat­ic, with no considerat­ion given to our democratic­ally enacted Constituti­on which explicitly provides for denominati­onal education and the preference the majority of parents have continuall­y displayed for this kind of education; and parents are accused of cynically baptising their children for the sole purpose of gaining an advantage when it comes to the allocation of places in areas of shortage, despite there being no evidence to suggest that the rate of baptisms is higher in those areas than in those where there are places to spare.

The strategy seems to be to repeat falsehoods and spin facts until enough people are bamboozled by the repetition into thinking it is the truth. There is only one way to fight such blatant propaganda and that is to name it for what it is every time and place it arises. It is a pity that our media outlets, which are entrusted in a democracy with the great responsibi­lity of keeping the citizenry informed of the objective facts and helping maintain some degree of balance in any debate, have chosen not only to abdicate that duty in this case but also to provide a platform for the most egregious of the propagandi­sts. – Is mise, Rev PATRICK G BURKE, Castlecome­r, Co Kilkenny.

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