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Open Letter to Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources
In your new role as minister with responsibility for broadcasting may I draw your attention to the prime-time slots assigned to the Angelus on RTÉ 1 radio and television? In my view, religion should be treated as a commodity in the same way as other basic needs. Just as all of us crave food, water, etc., a majority of people have a need to transcend the reality of their daily struggle to survive and to find deeper meaning to their corporeal existence.
But the State needs to be neutral in its broadcasting policy. The Republic is now a multi-cultural society with a myriad of religious philosophies and practices. In exclusively promoting one religious sector that propagated an institutional belief system leading to the human rights abuses of the Magdalen Laundries, the mother and baby homes, illegal adoptions, child sexual and physical abuse and the torturous practice of symphysiotomy, can only lead to dissent and racial/religious grievances; we’re all acutely aware of the possible consequences of such preferential treatment.
Perhaps a more concrete argument might be made to bring the broadcasting “powers that be” to their senses. The one minute prime-time slots on RTÉ 1 radio and RTÉ 1 television would cost the Catholic Church approximately €2 million per annum if it was asked to pay for such slots. It is unconscionable that the taxpayer should be asked to foot the bill for such promotion.
The Department of Education would also be wise to take a more neutral stance in matters of religion in state-funded schools. In treating religion as a commodity, our classrooms could be rented out to religious groups after school hours and the proceeds could be used to promote and foster special talents such as the arts and sport.
It’s now time to review the special status conferred on the Catholic Church by RTÉ and other state-funded institutions and the collusion in this practice by successive governments. As a constituent, I now call on you, minister, to justify why this policy should continue.
Good luck in your brief.
42 Dundrum Gate
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