Religion IQDA2012


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IQDA Teaching Resource for 'Religion'. Produced in 2012. For more see Attribute as follows: Irish Qualitative Data Archive [distributor], 2012. For fully downloadable version including audio-clips visit:

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Religion IQDA2012

  1. 1. Religion This teaching and learning resource has been produced by the Irish Qualitative Data Archive as part of the NUI Maynooth/NDLR Learning Innovation Community Support Project, “Teaching and Learning Through the Archive”. The presentation includes short interview excerpts from the Life Histories and Social Change Project, century-ireland where the respondent have given their consent to be identified.Irish Qualitative Data Archive, 2012 Additional teaching resources are available at resources Development of this resource funded by National University of Ireland Maynooth / National Digital Learning Repository Attribute as follows: Irish Qualitative Data Archive [distributor], 2012.
  2. 2. Religion
  3. 3. Concepts:Religion as a social structure Ideological controlSegregation and sectarianism Secularism
  4. 4. 1. Defining religion
  5. 5. 1. Defining religion“Religions ...are the long-term outcome of historical processes that have seen the development of specialised and limited rites and cults into larger and more organised and institutionalised bodies of knowledge and practice” (Restivo cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 400)
  6. 6. 1. Defining religion Key aspects of religion are • sacred symbols • rituals and special behaviour • a feeling of reverence • a community of believers(Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 399)
  7. 7. 2. Religion as asocial structure
  8. 8. 2. Religion as a social structureSociology has contributed to the study of religionby “mov[ing] beyond the common sense understanding of religion as dealing with mystery and the supernatural and … *by emphasizing+ its social nature.” (Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 399)
  9. 9. 2. Religion as a social structure“*R+eligion was of key importance to the early sociologists [Compte, Marx, Weber, Durkheim], both in terms of the influence and impact of forms of religious beliefs on society as a whole and in terms of the power and role of religious institutions in everyday social life” (Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 400)
  10. 10. 3. Religion inTwentieth Century Ireland
  11. 11. 3. Religion in Twentieth Century Ireland Writing in 1987, Inglis remarks; “One of the first impressions of [Ireland] that marks it out as different from other Western societies is that the [Catholic] Church is a strong and active force in everyday life” (Inglis, cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 403) Image courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
  12. 12. 3. Religion in Twentieth Century Ireland During the Twentieth Century religion played such a central part in the daily lives of Irish people that other social events were often constructed around prayer times or structural worship. Image courtesy ofThe National Library of Ireland
  13. 13. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. In the following excerpt the interview participant describes how, “the rosary had to be said” every night. How did the rituals of religion shape everyday practices in the family home?Q2. The interview participant describes “say[ing+ the rosary every night” and attending “mass every Sunday” as examples of religious devotion. To what extent were these social as well as religious events?Q3. This excerpt describes religious practices in an early 20th century Irish family. In what ways have religious practices in the home changed in recent times and what has brought about these changes? Are there any practices that have remained the same?
  14. 14. Prayers at home, 1920s Audio clip Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH125 (female, born in 1929) Was there a lot of religion in the house?RESP: Oh there was, father would say the rosary* every night and all had to be down on their knees.INT: Was this before or after the ramblers** were in?RESP: It would be after the ramblers.INT: So nobody got to bed until after the ramblers had gone.RESP: No but of course they didnt delay that long you know, I suppose they came about half [past] ten or that you know, theyd be in early. But the rosary had to be said and was said [unclear]. He was a great man for the rosary and mass every Sunday, walked to mass. My brother used to say to him, “daddy you should have been a priest!” [laughs]INT: How was that received?RESP: He didnt say yes or no.*rosary: A form of Roman Catholic devotional prayer in which fifteen decades of prayers are repeated**ramblers: people going from house to house to socialize in the evenings
  15. 15. 4. Ideological Control
  16. 16. 4. Ideological Control“*I+deological controlwas ... reinforced by the churches’ control of institutions such as education, health and social welfare and the generation of ‘expert knowledge’” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, p.413)"A political discourse that focused on national identity based on difference from Protestant England ... helped to solidify the ideological control of Catholicism [in Ireland during the Twentieth Century]" (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, pg. 413)
  17. 17. The phenomenal power of the Catholic Church inIreland during the 20th Century is captured by FintanO’Toole’s ‘cradle to grave’ explanation of the welfaresystem that was established post-independence... Image courtesy of The National Library of Ireland
  18. 18. 4. Ideological Control “An Irish person was and is likely to be born in a Catholic hospital, educated at Catholic schools, married in a Catholic church, have children named by a priest, be counselled by Catholic marriage advisors if the marriage runs into trouble, be dried out in Catholic clinics for the treatment of alcoholism if he or she develops a drink problem, be operated on in Catholic Hospitals, and be buried by Catholic rites” (O’Toole cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 414).Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland
  19. 19. 4. Ideological Control“The modern institutional church and the modern Irish nation state developed simultaneously and ‘gestated in mutual interdependence during most of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth’”. (Nic Ghiolla Phadraig cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007 pg. 415)On the formation of the Irish Free State, the Catholic Church “became the effective arbiter of social legislation, having a ban on divorce inserted into the Constitution, encouraging the introduction of draconian censorship of books and films, delaying the legalisation of artificial contraception until 1979, retaining largely unquestioned control over schools and hospitals funded by the taxpayer, resisting the slow development of a welfare state.” (O’Toole cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 404)
  20. 20. Think about... Read the newspaper excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions Context: Excerpt from a letter sent by the Bishop of Ferns to the Taoiseach, on the 10th of October 1950, expressing the objection of the Catholic hierarchy to the proposed ‘Mother and Child’ health care scheme. The Scheme was dually withdrawn by the Government in1951, and on the 12th of April 1951, as a result of this controversial clash between his officeand the Church, Minister for Health, Dr. Noel Browne resigned from his ministerial post. On the morning of his resignation Dr. Browne released to the Irish Times the correspondence between the Government and the Catholic hierarchy over the proposed scheme.Q1. What aspects of the ‘Mother and Child Scheme’ were of particular concern to the Church, as detailed in the exerpt?Q2. Considering the outcome of the proposed scheme, how did this incident reveal the power of the Catholic hierarchy to “resist* + the slow development of a welfare state” (O’Toole cited in Share, Tovey & Corcoran, 2007, pg. 404)?
  21. 21. [Letter from] Bishop of Ferns to Taoiseach 10th October, 1950“Experience has shown that physical or health education is closely interwoven with important moral questions on which the Catholic Church has definite teaching.Education in regard to motherhood includes instruction in regard to sex relations, chastity and marriage. The State has no competence to give instruction in such maters. We regard with the greatest apprehension the proposal to give to local medical officers the right to tell Catholic girls and women how they should behave in regard to this sphere of conduct at once so delicate and sacred.” (Excerpt from letter from the Bishop of Ferns to the Taoiseach on 10th October 1950, published in the Irish Times, April 12th, 1951).
  22. 22. 5. Segregation and sectarianism
  23. 23. 5. Segregation and sectarianism“Sectarianism *is+the process ... whereby religious differences are noted – through picking up cues from names, accent, school attended, sports played – then evaluated and sometimes acted upon in a way that is discriminatory” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 408)
  24. 24. 5. Segregation and sectarianismHistorically “religion became a key signifier between *Protestant ‘English’+ settler and *Catholic ‘Irish’+ native (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 408)“‘Otherness’ was, and is created and re-created through practices like endogamous marriage ... and segregated or ‘denominational’ education” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, pg. 409)
  25. 25. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. What evidence is there that the two groups in this community, Catholic and Protestant, were integrated with one another? And what evidence is there that they were segregated?Q2. The participant says that the woman “was afraid that someone would say to the priest that [she] went inside the railings of a Protestant church”. How did the physical separation of the two groups foster a sense of difference between Catholics and Protestants living in the same community?
  26. 26. Protestantism and Catholicism in Ireland, 1960sAudio clip Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH218 (male, born between 1945 and 1954) INT: And were your grandparents from outside were they religious at all? RESP: Everybody was religious then. You had no choice, I don’t know. I don’t know because there was a lot of superstition and there was no way that you would not dream of going to the church. There was no way, I mean you had to be one or the other. I mean I can remember going, our local shopkeeper, I lived over beside the ‘Five Lamps’ and our local shopkeeper was a Protestant and when his daughter was to be married. Now to us, I realise now he wasn’t very wealthy, but to us he would have because he owned a shop and he had a car. And when his daughter was being married in St. Barnabus church, which is now knocked down, I can remember all the people from the corporation flats going down to see her and they couldn’t go inside the railing into the church. And one woman broke ranks, she ran up and looked in the door, she wanted to see the girl actually being married rather than coming out in her dress and going in with her dress and she turned round to the other auld ones, ‘auld ones’ is a loving term that we use, it’s not meant in a rude way, and she turned round, “Don’t fucking one of yous, fucking tell on me or I’ll fucking kill yis”. She was afraid that someone would say to the priest that so and so went in, inside the railings of a Protestant church and she would have been called down, so I don’t think you had much choice but to be religious.
  27. 27. 6. SecularismSecularisation is defined as“the process by which sectors of society and culture areremoved from the domination of religious institutions andsymbols” (Berger cited in Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007,pg. 417)“Fahey et al. suggest that the conflicts over church doctrine[for example, on contraception, divorce and other questionsof sexual morality], as well as the impact of church scandalshave contributed to a longer term decline in confidence inthe church” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 420)
  28. 28. 6. Secularism and modernity“*Secularism+ suggests a ‘disenchantment’ of society (Weber’s evocative term): a process whereby the spiritual and the supernatural come to play a lesser role in people’s lives and may be replaced by more mundane, rational and scientific modes of thinking and expression” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 417)
  29. 29. 6. Secularism in Ireland: 2011 CensusNo religion[According to the 2011 Census of Ireland] “between 2006 and 2011 the number of people with no religion grew by 83,500 to 269,800.The majority of this group were Irish nationals accounting for 176,180 of the total and increasing by 64.4 per cent since 2006.The majority of those with no religion was concentrated in the age group 20 to 49 years”. (CSO, 2012, emphasis added)
  30. 30. 6. Secularism in Ireland Data source: WIN-Gallup International“Ireland has the second greatest drop GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGIOSITY AND ATHEISM - 2012 globally, in those claiming to be religious since 2005” (Red C, 2012) 80% 69% 70% 60% 50% 47% 44% 40% 2005 30% 25% 2011 20% 13% 10% 10% 2% 0% 0% A religious person Not a religious A convinced atheist Dont know/refused person Red C Opinion Poll (2012)
  31. 31. 6. Secularism in IrelandA number of recent survey into religious attitudes in the Republic of Ireland have revealed that attendance at church, considered a fundamental part of religious commitment, has been in decline over the past twenty years.
  32. 32. 6. Secularism in Ireland: Religious Practice (McGreil)Weekly religious worship in the Republic of Ireland has fallen from 79% in 1988-89 to 42% in 2007-08Monthly religious worship in the Republic of Ireland has fallen from 85% in 1988-’89 to 54% in 2007-08” (MacGreil, 2009)
  33. 33. 6. Secularism in Ireland: Religious Practice (McGreil)The findings [of this survey] also reveal that the predominant reason given by those who did not “attend weekly worship” was: “Just don’t bother” (65%) (MacGreil, 2009, emphasis added) Discussion point: Return to the church during times of uncertainty? A 2009 telephone survey* found that weekly church attendance increased to 46%, and monthly attendance to 65% ... [the increase has been associated by with the downturn in the Irish economy ] ... McGarry quotes David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, who states that this is “anecdotal evidence that church attendance has been increasing since the recession began” (McGarry, 2009.) *Red C poll conducted between October 19th and 21st 2009, for the Catholic Iona Institute and based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and over.
  34. 34. 6. Secularism in Ireland: Religious Practice (EVA) Data source: European Values Study 4th waveQ: Apart from Once a month, 16%weddings, funerals andchristenings, about how oftendo you attend religiousservices these days?(Base: Catholics in R of Once a week, 36%Ireland) Only on special holy days, 11% Once a year, 9% Less often, 11% More than once a week, 9% Never, practically never, 8% O’Mahony (2010)
  35. 35. Think about... Listen to the interview excerpt on the next slide and think about the following questions.Q1. The interview participant describes not attending mass as, “the big rebellion”. How was non-attendance at mass a ‘rebellious’ behaviour?Q2. Religious control is seen to have lessened within family life and the community in the last two decades. “We were sixteen we were allowed go on our own” - how does this description of prayer time and structured worship compare to the description in the first excerpt?Q3. Is the decline of traditional religion in the community a natural progression in a global society? Can you think of specific events that have lead to the recent decline of traditional religious practices, such as attending mass, in Irish society?
  36. 36. Young people and traditional religion in the late 1980s Audio clip Source: Life Histories and Social Change Project, LH315 (male, born in 1970) And what sort of values would you say your parents instilled in you, like what were the things that they wanted [yous]?RESP: [They] wanted us to go to mass every Sunday and we didnt. I think that was the big rebellionINT: That was a big change in Ireland as well?RESP: Yeah, mmINT: And did you go to mass every Sunday?RESP: We kind of switched, when Saturday night mass came along we kind of switched and went down to Saturday night mass, looked in, seen who it was and then got an hour free. You didnt have to come home till nine oclock to twenty to nine whatever it wasINT: So they didnt go with you?RESP: No cos we were sixteen we were allowed go on our own and they trusted us and we just looked in said, "ah its father whoever it was" and then we’re goneINT: You knew how long hed take [laughs]RESP: Yeah, youd see the crowd coming out of mass and youd go "right five minutes" and wed have to goINT: But when you were younger, say growing up as a young child, would they have brought you every Sunday to mass?RESP: Oh yeahINT: They were religious people?RESP: Yes, yeah every SundayINT: And are they still religious people?RESP: Yes, yeah my mum lights candles and she goes to mass everyday during Lent and all that stuff, soINT: What religion do you mind me asking?RESP: Roman Catholic. The usual
  37. 37. 6. Secularism in Ireland:However, measuring religiosity in terms of attendance at church services has its limitations.“*W+e see an increasing number of adherents for many churches in Ireland; and matters of religion still occupy an important place in public discourse” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 417)“Ireland remains the overwhelmingly Catholic country of the English-speaking world, according to results of the April 2011 census, published [on the 29th March 2012]. Over 84 per cent of people in the Republic, or 3.86 million, described themselves as Roman Catholic in that census.” (McGarry, 2012)
  38. 38. 6. Secularism in Ireland: 2011 Census Figure 35 Population classified by religion 2006 and 2011 “Ireland remains a predominantly Not stated Catholic country despite the large increases in other religions seen in No religion recent years. No other religion comes Other close in importance with over 84 per cent declaring themselves RomanApostolic or Pentacostal Catholic. The graph below shows that while the number of Catholics overall Orthodox increased by 179,889, or 4.9 per Presbyterian cent, since 2006 much of this increase came from the non-Irish (mostly Christian European) national community”. (CSO, 2012) Muslim (Islamic) Church of Ireland 2011 Roman Catholic 2006 0.00 500.00 1,000.00 1,500.00 2,000.00 2,500.00 3,000.00 3,500.00 4,000.00 4,500.00 (Thousands) Data source: ‘This is Ireland – Highlights from Census 2011, Part 1’
  39. 39. 7. Ireland and ‘new’ religions
  40. 40. 7. Ireland and ‘new’ religions“Critics of the secularisation thesis have argued (Aldridge, 2000, pg. 103-106) that it is liberal capitalist societies – such as the United States – that are most open to the growth of new religious forms ... [than] European societies, where the state is far more closely aligned with established religions ... it will be interesting to see whether future religious change in Ireland takes us in the direction of ‘Boston’ or ‘Berlin’” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 427). “*T+he fastest growing religions between 2006 and 2011 in percentage terms were Orthodox, Apostolic or Pentecostal and Muslim … Evangelical and Methodist showed the largest decline compared with 2006”. (CSO, 2012)
  41. 41. 8. Disenchantment?
  42. 42. 8. Disenchantment?“The typical end point of decline in religious adherence is not total rejection and indifference towards religion but a shift from strong and highly institutionalised attachment towards more intermittent and lukewarm adherence and towards various forms of privatised belief and commitment” (Fahey et al. Cited in Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007, pg. 423)“The practice of personal prayer is still relatively strong and its decline has been less severe than the drop in formal worship and sacramental participation” (MacGreil, 2009) “ 72% pray ‘weekly or more often’” (MacGreil, 2009, emphasis added)
  43. 43. 8. Disenchantment? Belief in... Base: Catholics in R of Ireland; source: European Values Survey100% 10.10%90% 23.40% 24.70% 28.40%80% 49.80%70% 70.10%60% No50% Yes 89.90%40% 76.60% 75.30% 71.60%30% 50.20%20% 29.90%10% 0% Belief in... God Life after death Hell Heaven Sin Re-incarnation Data source: European Values Study 4th wave (O’Mahony, 2010)
  44. 44. 8. Disenchantment?“Irish people are still very comfortable with the central spiritual claims of the Christian church, but are less likely to agree with its direction in other areas of life” (Share, Tovey and Corcoran, 2007 , pg. 420). “86% of the total sample admitting they felt a degree of closeness (to God)” (MacGreil, 2009, emphasis added)
  45. 45. ReferencesCentral Statistics Office (March 2012) This is Ireland Highlights from Census 2011, Part 1. Stationery Office, Dublin, Ireland.Mac Greil, M. (2009) Summary of report The Challenge of Indifference from “Cardinal Launches McGreil Survey”, 16th June 2009. Accessed at:, Patsy ‘Mass attendance in Ireland is up’ in The Irish Times , 2nd November 2009. Accessed at: d=12309McGarry, Patsy ‘Ireland remains overwhelmingly Catholic’ in The Irish Times, 30th March 2012. Accessed at:’Mahony, E. (2010) Religious Practice and Values in Ireland. A summary of European Values Study 4th wave data. Maynooth: Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.Red C Opinion Poll.(2012) Global index of religion and atheism. Press release. Accessed at: 25-7-12.pdfShare, P., Tovey, H. and Corcoran, M.P. (2007) A Sociology of Ireland, third edition. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.The Irish Times ‘Bishop of Ferns to Taoiseach’, 12th of April 1951. Accessed at: ountid=12309
  46. 46. Note on this teaching resourceIQDA Teaching Resources by Irish Qualitative Data Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at century-ireland.Life Histories and Social Change was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRCHSS).Images on slides 2, 11, 12, 17 and 18 courtesy of The National Library of Ireland. Reproduction of this images is with the written consent of The National Library of Ireland only.This teaching resource was prepared by Ruth Geraghty. IQDA would like to acknowledge Linda OKeefe and Aileen OCarroll for their work on this teaching resource.Preparation of this teaching resource was assisted by an NDLR Learning and Innovation Project grant from the NUI Maynooth Centre for Teaching and Learning.Irish Qualitative Data Archive, 2012