#shanenaz2016

November 2016 - I and my pals cycled in The Galilee, Northern Israel, to raise money for Nazareth Hospital Paediatric Department. We raised over £50,000 but we could use more! Nazareth is the largest Arab town in Israel; the people are lovely, and the kids are awesome. Nazareth also treats kids in the West Bank of Palestine who have very limited access to healthcare. They need your help! Go to my sponsorship page to find out more and see what you can do! Maybe even join us in 2017..?
http://justgiving.com/shanenaz2016

03 March 2011

No Religion, One Community

Or at least religion should be irrelevant. Since the time of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland - indeed, since well before that, legislation in the name of "Equality" has required employers and other groups to monitor people in terms of their religious affiliation, and in other axes in accordance with Section 75 of the Equality Act.

So people in NI are regularly made to fill out forms, basically to say whether they are Protestant or Catholic. Indeed, that's not even enough - the question is often worded to ask whether you might be *perceived* as a member of the "Catholic Community" or the "Protestant Community", as if these were distinct entities.

Now, I know we have a history, and I know what the reasoning behind this all was in the first instance, but surely this shite is past its sell-by date? There is a new generation in Northern Ireland - a new set of people who do not identify themselves as "Protestant" or "Catholic" - just "human". We do not want to be "perceived" as "belonging" to categories of Prod or Taig, just to suit some number crunchers somewhere. I'm fecking fed up to the back teeth with this sort of bollocks, so I am respectfully suggesting to anyone in NI who might share my view that we should make a concerted effort to answer these questions in a way that indicates that we are a member of NEITHER the "Protestant" or "Catholic" communities, and then maybe this stupid exercise in legacy sectarian arsery will wither and die. And good riddance to it if that happens.

11 comments:

  1. Photo by Tim Duckett, incidentally. Nicked from the Beeb.

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  2. Is the valid point you're suggesting not better rendered as "All religions and none - one community?" Surely you're not suggesting replacing one form of lack of tolerance with another?

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  4. Hi Slicer, the point is that religion should not be used to divide us into separate "communities". I agree - all religions and none. But as an atheist, I very strongly resent the notion that I should be categorised and some notion of "perceived religion" used as a proxy for finding out my views, like some sort of union block vote. People are free to believe what they want (as they should be), but the job of the state is to ensure those freedoms are maintained for everyone, and right now the enforcement of this outdated categorisation is holding Northern Ireland back.

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  5. Great - we agree on that. For those who read this blog and aren't familiar with the history in this great but frustrating wee country of ours, this whole pigeon-holing business has been driven by a need for employers to demonstrate that they were not discriminating in employment on religious terms. In days gone by they wouldn't even ask the question outright but asked employees which school they attended. They then inferred a religious label from that. I recall a Jewish colleague being informed that he was "perceived Protestant" on this basis. An Indian colleague, when he indicated he was Hindu, was asked was he a Protestant Hindu or a Catholic Hindu.....
    Members of a mature and civilised society should be able to hold differing views whilst celebrating diversity and demonstrating respect for those with whom they differ.

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  7. Yes - I've seen that too; I've been perceived as "the other sort" also. NI needs to rid itself of this nonsense.

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  9. OK Jim, so what do we do? Facebook & other social media campaign followed up by advertising & lobbying Stormont? I think this sectarian headcounting is trapping us in the past, and it is becoming increasingly irrelevant as Northern Ireland moves to a brighter, more secular future.

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  10. hiya shane

    respectfully, i disagree. there is a danger of all the sectarian headcounting trapping us in the past, but we're not there yet. sectarianism is not sufficiently "past".

    what is important, in order to help put it in the past, is for us to stop pretending that we are neutral. the fact (from your FB status, which i can see but not comment on) that you identify not as a member of the protestant or catholic communities, but as a member of the "northern ireland community" indicates a clear demarcation between how you percieve yourself and those who would see themselves not as protestant or catholic but as members of the "ireland" community.

    the question isn't really about your religious beliefs, it's about the culture within which you were raised. and it does matter, so we'd better stop pretending it doesn't. how can we start to build bridges while we're still pretending there's no river?

    ian

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  11. No, Ian, we're all in the river, but some of us are closer to one bank than the other.

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