Sunday 26 January 2020

Letters to the Editor: 'Racist invective may be linked to a decline in religious faith'

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

According to your writer John Meagher, "a curious phenomenon of the growth of racist invective is how its chief exponents have pushed hard for a return to a theocratic state, to an Ireland where abortion and gay rights don't exist" (Irish Independent, December 28).

Racist invective may be linked to a decline in religious faith Where to start? Christians who took the minority position in the referendums of recent years were trying their best to defend authentic human rights, the most basic of which is the right to be let live. There is nothing religious, much less theocratic, about that. Many non-believers had the same view. 

But your writer's linkage of 'racist invective' with religious-minded people who are conservative on social issues was still more unfair. He produced no evidence of any such trend. But he surely knows the Christian position towards migrants is of 'welcoming the stranger', a witness lived out by Pope Francis on many occasions and preached by Christian bishops throughout Europe and the universal Church.

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In support, many members of religious and lay Christian organisations dedicate their lives to helping refugees and asylum seekers. That visceral despising of racism and a belief in universal brotherhood is fundamental to Christianity and links seamlessly with a belief in the right to life of all human beings. My own guess is that the 'racist invective' he sees may be associated with the decline of authentic, challenging, religious faith in our country.

Into the vacuum has come a rampant individualism with people jealously guarding their own privileges and benefits in a world of finite resources. But that is only a supposition. I would be slow, without further evidence, to observe it as a phenomenon, curious or otherwise.

Senator Rónán Mullen Leinster House

Church drives people away by trying to cling to power

PHILIP O'Neill (Irish Independent, Letters, December 28) worries that with the ending of the Catholic Church's unchallenged rights to tell us how to think and to insist our laws were in accordance with Catholic dogma that we have somehow thrown out the baby with the bathwater. He suggests "our sense of wonder and mystery have been weakened and our capacity for self-reflection diminished". 

In fact the opposite has happened. While we were growing up, the answer to the question "Who made the world", was a simple and unquestionable "God made the world". Now we try to understand the concept of the Big Bang and the expanding universe and, far from simply believing in Adam and Eve, we are amazed by the evolution of luminescent aquatic life at unimaginable depths in the oceans.

We have grown up and now think for ourselves on moral issues like contraception, divorce, gay rights and abortion - and come to our own conclusions. This requires self-education and self-reflection.  While religious guidance on moral issues may be helpful, most people will also take into account the rights of others, the good of the community and, increasingly, the preservation of the planet. This surely must be an improvement on simply doing what the bishops told us. While the power of the Catholic Church over individual morality is diminished, the power of the Church as an institution in the State is largely unchanged.

For example, the State is still waiting on permission from the Vatican to build our new National Maternity Hospital on the preferred site. In half our public hospitals, a woman will be denied an elective tubal ligation because those hospitals are under Church control.  For good measure, the vast majority of private hospitals are also under Catholic Church control. Compulsory religion, unfortunately, is still a major feature of our education and health services. By clinging to its power to compel religion on our citizens, the Church is driving more of our citizens away.

Anthony O'Leary  Portmarnock, Co Dublin 

Disney would draw the line at depriving homeless of shelter 

WHAT would the founder of Disney think of the corporation bearing his name attempting to deprive the homeless of meagre shelter in its Grafton Street doorway? Walt Disney began drawing animals to make amends for the fact he killed a squirrel when he was a boy. Does he sound like a person who would approve the erection of that gate? Mattie Lennon Blessington, Co Wicklow 

Despite protests, mayor may fiddle while Sydney burns

DESPITE more than a quarter of a million people having signed a petition calling on Sydney's mayor to cancel the New Year's Eve fireworks, and divert the AU$5.8m (€3.6m) to putting out the fires destroying the country, Mayor Clover Moore is planning to follow Emperor Nero's example. So, history does repeat itself.

Eve Parnell Address with editor

Irish Independent

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