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Young Irish people abandon religion

Data on the decline in religious belief amongst the population of Ireland. 

Ireland has primarily been a country of Catholicism. Like many post-colonial countries, the colonisers tried forcing their own religion on the people which only made the religion of Catholicism part of the Irish Identity. This Irish identity and near national religion seemed to stand in direct contrast to the English. 

The religion of Ireland has for a long time been Christianity and Catholicism in particular. It has been one of the major hold outs in the western world, as the ever-increasing development and education limits the reach and acceptance of religion. Religion has become less and less important to the people of Ireland though. The reasons are harder to discuss, whether it be better education, higher rates of development or simply the numerous scandals and abuses perpetrated by the Catholic church. The closest study we have is from Gallup in 2009 which is safe to assume the numbers of people who claim religion is important to them has only gone down. Since this poll the reporting on the horrors of the mother and baby homes, the sexual abuse of children by the church and the prevention of rights for people. 

The problem that the church has is that with the modernisation of the world, younger people are leaving religion as they enter into adulthood and further once they start college. The older generation are more set into the ways in which they were raised. However, It seems that once a child enters into an age were they go college, they begin to question their faith. Faith is not something easily defined but by most definitions it is the belief in something without or in contrast to all available evidence. For some people faith is not a virtue but a crutch as the great Christopher Hitchens said “Faith is the surrender of the mind, it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other animals.” Many young people are now entering into the world and realising that religion doesn’t need to control their life. 

 The Irish school system is something of an oddity, the separation of Church and state is limited here. The religion of Catholicism is still a pervasive and sometimes excluding force within the schooling of children. The majority of schools in the country are Catholic and teach with a Catholic ethos. This is something which is at odds with educating the children of the country to the best ability of the state. Private education seems to be one of the few resources that allow children to get an education unencumbered by the shackles of church teachings. 

The last few years in Ireland has seen long overdue rights granted to both women and LGBT groups. All of this was previously thought impossible with the hold religion had over the small island, but the people rebelled against the church and the decreasing power the church has is noticeable every day. This is seen in the number of people who say they have no religion. It should be noted that on both these occasions the church was against granting these basic human rights to the citizens of Ireland.

Religion is on the decline in western countries. Different ideologies come in its place or people simply decide it is best for them to think for themselves. Logic and reason are so pervasive in our current society that the ideological hold of ancient belief systems can seem like going in a backward direction. In our current world information is available at the touch of a button and this could be the death knell for religious organisations of the world. 

*All Graphs made by James Caulfield

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