ATHEIST parents have complained to the Irish education authorities that a Roman Catholic national school discriminated against their son because he did not attend a holy-communion choir class.
The parents allege that the boy came home from the school crying because his teacher allegedly told the class that those who attended the communion practice would receive a “homework pass”, whereas those who did not would be excluded from such a reward.
They said he was the only atheist in the class and so would not have the opportunity to make such a choice. The child has been moved to an interdenominational school several miles further away.
While the school concerned in the allegation did not comment on the individual accusation, it is understood that it operated a policy of rewarding children who engaged in “positive behaviour” — including the choir and other extra-curricular activities — and that discrimination was not aimed at an atheist pupil, since many RC pupils did not engage in these activities either.
Irish education legislation both constitutionally and under the 1998 Education Act provides parents with the right to remove their children from religious-education classes if they choose to do so.