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Secularisation in Ireland and Intra and Inter-Generational Social Mobility

Secularisation in Ireland

In Ireland, the Constitution prohibits government support for any denomination, but the Catholic Church has such a strong political influence that, until recently, it successfully blocked the passage of liberal legislation. In this connection, secularism is understood as a political and legal principle, consisting of the fundamental distance of the state from the church (Inglis, 1998). In turn, it is based on the broader idea of the government’s neutrality regarding any ideological doctrine. Secularisation is a social process that implies reducing the importance of religion in the life of society and citizens in particular.

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If in the Middle Ages, the Christian religion permeated human life, and the Christian Church was one of the key political players in Ireland, the situation tends to change dramatically from the 20th century. This observation formed the basis for the thesis that modernization is accompanied by secularisation. Inglis (1998) clarified that the consequence of modernization is not the disappearance of a religious component from the consciousness of people, but an increasing pluralization. In particular, there is a situation, in which different beliefs, values, ​​and worldviews (both religious and secular) coexist within the same society.

While mothers were the main supporters of the comprehensive impact of the church, the division between the Irish state and church began from them as well. The Mother and Child Scheme was proposed, the feminism movement began, and sexual expression became more pronounced (Inglis, 1998). However, the efforts of secularisation were met by the opposition. In 1961, the Defamation Law was passed, which did not specify what the blasphemous libel against the church was, but established punishments for it, such as two years in prison, seven years of forced labor, or a fine (Cox, 2020). In 2009, prison sentences and compulsory labor were canceled. The Minister of Justice of Ireland declared that they decided in such a way that it became virtually impossible to apply punishment, while its abolishment was impossible due to the 40th article of the Constitution (Cox, 2020).

Therefore, human rights activists began to demand a national referendum, which is the only way to amend the Constitution of Ireland. In May 2015, the country’s citizens approved the legalization of same-sex marriages as a result of the referendum. In 2018, Irish residents voted in a referendum to remove the concept of blasphemy from the country’s Constitution and allow abortions (‘Ireland’s abortion referendum result in five charts,’ 2018). The proponents of the constitutional reform believed that improper abortion policies in democratic Ireland legitimized such norms in countries where punishment under these articles is not symbolic. Indeed, such an approach shows the great exercise of democracy, when the public demonstrates consciousness about contemporary social issues.

The changes accepted through referendums can be evaluated as effective to reduce the number of abortions and increase the number of happy people in the country. The 2020 Euthanasia Bill for the society is another step toward meeting citizens’ democratic rights as it grants the right to death with dignity. This bill proposes assisted dying for persons with terminal and progressing illnesses aged over 18 and living as residents of the country for at least one year. The moral considerations cause the debates since some people believe it to be immoral, while others insist on valuing the desires of individuals. The existence of well-developed palliative care also evokes questions about ethics. Although the debates continue, there is evident progress in the process of secularisation in Ireland.

References

Cox, N. (2020) ‘Blasphemy, freedom of expression and the role of constitutional rights: the case of Ireland’, in Constitutions and Religion. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 399-414.

Inglis, T. (1998) Moral monopoly: the rise and fall of the Catholic Church in modern Ireland. Dublin: University of College Dublin Press.

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‘Ireland’s abortion referendum result in five charts’. (2018). The Irish Times. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, August 31). Secularisation in Ireland and Intra and Inter-Generational Social Mobility. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/secularisation-in-ireland-and-intra-and-inter-generational-social-mobility/

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StudyCorgi. "Secularisation in Ireland and Intra and Inter-Generational Social Mobility." August 31, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/secularisation-in-ireland-and-intra-and-inter-generational-social-mobility/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Secularisation in Ireland and Intra and Inter-Generational Social Mobility." August 31, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/secularisation-in-ireland-and-intra-and-inter-generational-social-mobility/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Secularisation in Ireland and Intra and Inter-Generational Social Mobility'. 31 August.

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