New Teachers Hide Lack of Belief to Get Jobs

May 3, 2022 | 0 comments

Non-believing teachers are hiding their lack of belief to stand a better chance of employment in schools that can select teachers on the basis of their religious ethos, according to a cross-border study by two academics. Dr Catherine Stapleton of Mary Immaculate College and Dr James Nelson of Queen’s University Belfast conducted the research that led to these findings, on both sides of the NI border. As schools in both jurisdictions are exempt from equality legislation they have the right to discriminate against candidates on the basis of religious belief when hiring teachers. As part of the study, qualitative interviews were undertaken with teachers from across the island.

‘Unprepared’

The research found that non-religious teachers felt unprepared for the expectation that they would conform to the religious culture of a school, and felt challenged by a range of ethical and professional dilemmas. The majority responded by “hiding or suppressing their identity, including feigning belief”. The report criticises current designations for schools such as “multi-denominational”, “inter-denominational” and “non-denominational”. Arguing that these categories are poorly defined, the authors propose the creation of clearly defined designations for schools which clarify the role of religion within the school.  They also say governments should seek to proactively recruit a diverse teaching workforce that reflect changing beliefs. For those with access the complete Irish Times report of this research can be found by clicking here.

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ACI’s Campaign for Lumen Gentium 37

The Promise of Synodality

What we have experienced of synodality so far - and especially the presentation by Dr Nicola Brady on February 24th 2022 - gives ACI real hope that a longstanding structural injustice in the church may at last be acknowledged and overcome.

As all Irish bishops well know, the 'co-responsibility' they urge lay people to share - as numbers and energies of clergy decline - has been sabotaged time and again by canonical rules that deny representational authority and continuity to parish pastoral councils.  ACI's 2019 call for the immediate honouring of Lumen Gentium Article 37 becomes more urgent by the day and is supported by the following documents - also presented to the ICBC in October 2019.

The Common Priesthood of the People of God and the Renewal of the Church
It was Catholic parents and victims of clerical abuse who taught Catholic Bishops to prioritise the safeguarding of children in the church

Jesus as Model for the Common Priesthood of the People of God
It was for challenging religious hypocrisy and injustice that Jesus was accused and crucified. He is therefore a model for the common priesthood of the laity and for the challenging of injustice - in society and within the church.

A Suggested Strategy for the Recovery of the Irish and Western Catholic Church
Recovery of the church depends upon acknowledgment of the indispensable role of the common priesthood of the lay people of God and the explicit abandonment by bishops and clergy of paternalism and clericalism - the expectation of deference from lay people rather than honesty and integrity.

For the full story of ACI's campaign for the honouring of Article 37 of Lumen Gentium, click here.

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