Saturday, March 31, 2007

Catholic Atheist

More on the Census - not surprisingly every religion in the State saw a rise in its numbers in the past four years, mainly due to immigration from Eastern Europe and Africa, which helped the numbers of Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians and Muslims increase. Even the tiny Jewish community swelled a little, by 140 to 1,930. Interestingly there are places on the census for 'atheist', 'agnostic' and - a sure sign of maturity for Ireland - 'no religion'. Last census there were 500 atheists in Ireland - I wonder do Irish atheists call themselves the '500 club' because of this? This year there are 929 godless folk in the Republic. I can't remember what I designated myself as in the 2002 Census (I left for France just a month or so after it) - it might have been atheist, but if I wasn't feeling too bolshy on the night I might just have put down Catholic anyway. It reminds me of my mother's experiences of teaching religion to the Catholic students at Sligo Grammar School - when students were asked what their religion was so as to be allotted the correct 'Christian Doctrine' class, a claim of being an atheist would be met by the Principal telling them 'look, you're either a Catholic atheist, or a Protestant atheist.'