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Jun 13 2012

It’s still a Christian country

Cork city councillors don’t want no stinkin’ secularism. Cork city councillors say Ireland is a Christian country so there.

A proposal to scrap a prayer at the start of a local authority meeting sparked an unholy row last night.

Cork’s city councillors voted overwhelmingly against the move after a heated debate.

Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry, an atheist, called for the deletion of a rule governing the order of council business which states that the start of the council’s public meetings should include the recitation of an opening prayer, followed by a brief period of silent reflection.

The prayer reads: “Direct, we beseech thee, O Lord, our actions by thy holy inspirations and carry them on by thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from thee, and by thee be happily ended; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

That’s a very terrible prayer. Look at it. It means that they think whatever they do has been directed by what they take to be a good and all-powerful god. It makes them think they’re infallible.

Or maybe it doesn’t, because it’s just some words, and they don’t really listen or take it in or draw the obvious conclusions. Maybe. But why trust people to ignore their own Holy Formulas? And even if they don’t decide they’re infallible because they’ve said the prayer, they probably do assume they’re better for it, and a little protected from doing Definitely Bad Things.

Cllr Joe O’Callaghan (FG) said: “If it was good enough for Connolly, then it’s good enough for me. With all its faults, I’m a Catholic and I’m proud of that. And it’s still a Christian country and long may that continue.”

See? Like that. With all its faults, he’s proud of being a Catholic. What a thing to be proud of! “With all its faults” indeed – “all its faults” are a damn good reason to leave it.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    kev_s

    Well the true football supporter sticks with their team through thick and thin :-(

  2. 2
    GordonWillis

    Or maybe it doesn’t, because it’s just some words, and they don’t really listen or take it in or draw the obvious conclusions. Maybe. But why trust people to ignore their own Holy Formulas? And even if they don’t decide they’re infallible because they’ve said the prayer, they probably do assume they’re better for it, and a little protected from doing Definitely Bad Things.

    I really like your analysis. Years ago, when I believed all this, I would have said that it’s about praying for guidance and trusting that I had heard correctly. You see the problem: I take responsibility for getting it wrong, and God is let off the hook for not making himself clear. It’s all my imperfection, even though God made me what I am. But it’s thinking of this kind that makes people stick to the custom and resist the idea of abandoning the habit. Well, if it’s that important, they can do it at home: say the prayers before they do anything whatever, and then they can turn up feeling properly fortified, or whatever. But I think that the real issue is the “togetherness”. Why should that matter? I mean, why? Where do these people place their faith? In the God they pray to or in the agreement of other people?

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    And if they want togetherness – why not work up a nice secular ritual for city councillors? A recitation of the goods of urban life and what it can do for people, to inspire them in their work and help them think of it as a collective enterprise.

    Some eloquent person should write such a thing and offer it to city and town councils everywhere. Seriously. James Croft! Sounds like your department. (Too bad you can’t tag people from here. Handy, tagging.)

  4. 4
    GordonWillis

    But whatever defines the goods of urban life must pass Christian muster. And please don’t call in James Croft, because it would just be same (well, not “Christian”, but his take is equally dictatorial, and that’s the problem, isn’t it?).

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Well the goods needn’t pass Christian muster unless the dratted councillors insist on it and my suggestion was meant to be an alternative.

    I had in mind a video James did for…humanism, or Humanism, or something like that, a couple of years ago – a nice mix of pictures and music, which I thought was very effective. It wasn’t dictatorial! Even if James sometimes is.

  6. 6
    GordonWillis

    Yes, I understand that you were proposing an alternative. I was just thinking about what the dratted councillors would say in reply.

    Is there a link to the video, do you know? So far, I have only seen James Croft as dictatorial, but perhaps circumstances have been unfavourable and my view is skewed.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    I tried to find it but James has done too many videos related to humanism! I’ll ask him via Facebook.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Is on the front page. Or here -

  9. 9
    shouldbeworking

    “?.. With all its faults…” reminds me another quote along the lines of “my country right or wrong”. Not good for a citizen in a democratic country.

  10. 10
    Zengaze

    If I recall the catholic church has a special position within the Irish constitution. That’s sick to begin with. The Catholics are losing their grip on Ireland, but it’s slow.

    That guy invoking Connolly! I’m going to have to fact check that, I’m not sure whether he was a catholic or not, what I do know is that Connolly was a red, red, red, and an international red at that, which makes me suspicious of any kind of claim that Connolly would have supported Institutional religion.

    And anyway this is the Irish version of claiming the founding fathers created a Christian country. No fucking no, Irish republicanism if it is to be traced to any origin has to be 1798. Which was inspired by the ideas of the secular enlightenment.

  11. 11
    Luke

    The Catholic church’s special status in the constitution was removed in the seventies. The constitution still retains anti-blasphemy statements, a godly oath required to be president, claims that all authority derives from the Trinity, mentions of Jesus, claims that a woman’s place is in the home, and other such benighted statements.
    Oh, and the church still runs all the schools, the Angelus is played on state radio and television and abortion is illegal.

    That somebody could question this prayer and get away with it is progress of a sort, however.

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