I was reading about Edmund Burke a while back and how his dad may have been a Roman Catholic pretending to be a Protestant in order to avoid the penal laws. His mother was a Catholic and it seems likely although it canít be verified with certainty that his father was also a Catholic who officially converted to Protestant in order to qualify as a lawyer. So it is possible that Edmund Burke himself may have been pretending to be a Protestant seeing as his people were RC.
Anyway it struck me that back then the penal laws relating to education could have been easily overcome by the Catholics who could have received unofficial educations at home or in so called hedge schools or alternatively they could have received Protestant educations by pretending to be Protestants as may well have been the case for Edmund Burke. So I guess they would have got on with life in this way grinning and bearing things.
The point is that while I considered these ins and outs it struck me that I also had to pretend my children were of a certain creed in order to educate them. In our case we pretend they are Catholics in order to get by in our local school and it seems to me that itís like the penal laws still exist. If we are not willing to pretend that our kids are Catholics then there are no other schools in the area that we live in within reasonable distance so they would have to get some sort of schooling outside the system. Sort of like the hedge schools of yore.
I can live with this carry on as I know that we live in an imperfect world and it seems I am powerless to do anything about it anyway although it rankles a little sometimes.
For example a few weeks back my daughter was told to construct a shrine in our house to a Catholic saint as part of the holy communion preparation and this annoyed me as I had already explained to her that saints were only superstition and that she should not pray to them etc.
I know some of you are asking why she is making her first communion but believe me there is no way it can be avoided as everyone else in her class is doing it and it takes up a large part of the school day. We reckoned it would be cruel to single her out for making some sort of statement so as with all the rest we have to grin and bear it and carry on pretending.
Is it right to have a situation which mirrors the days of the penal laws with enforced religious conformity on children in a republic in the year 2012? Can anything be done about this modern day penal law situation or should we simply grin and bear it like the Catholics of old?