Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Obama's School Daze

Americans very rarely understand the relationship between religion and education in the United Kingdom, which would be unconstitutional in the United States.

In the same way, Britons (well, Britons who run no risk of becoming Labour candidates for Brighton Pavilion) are baffled at a country in which school Nativity plays would result in the arrest of all the adults involved, and in which even minors can literally be clapped in irons for praying on the touchline at school sporting fixtures.

Never mind a country in which the document requiring such action is regarded as a kind of appendix to the Bible, with the nation that it defines seen as a kind of Incarnation in civic, including military, form.

But in denouncing Catholic schools in Northern Ireland, Barack Obama was only sticking to the script provided by his hosts.

Under the pretext that they teach through the medium of Irish, wholly and militantly secular Sinn Féin schools have been set up at public expense, in direct opposition to the Catholic system, by that party’s successive Education Ministers. The job is a Sinn Féin sinecure; that is one of the unwritten rules.

The exclusion of Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist clergy from their historic role in the government of schools is the dry run for that party’s openly desired exclusion of the Catholic Church from schools throughout Ireland. A far easier thing to do in the Republic, which is now run exclusively by embittered ex-Catholics.

Like the protection of human life in the womb, and like the definition of marriage as only ever the union of one man and one woman, change to either of which would never attain the necessary cross-party consensus in Northern Ireland, the only part of Ireland in which Catholic schools are safe, even if embattled, is the only part in which healthcare is free at the point of use: the only part that is still in the United Kingdom.

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