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Western Christian tradition engaged with the democratic idea up until the middle of the twentieth century. Particular emphasis will be placed on three elements in this story: the real and imagined Protestant contribution to the evolution of democratic politics; the post-revolutionary Roman Catholic reaction and opposition to democracy; and the mid-twentieth-century Vatican conversion to the merits of democracy. As noted in the introduction, we are concerned here to provide an account of key developments, but also to keep in mind the question of why these particular

in Christianity and democratisation
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Christianity and democracy have had a long and sometimes troubled relationship. The roots of political pluralism are often seen as embedded within the Protestant historical experience of Northern Europe and North America, though whether this was a direct consequence of Reformed Christianity is contested. Conversely, the Roman Catholic Church has been depicted as a social institution that sought to halt the development of democracy from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century in Europe and Latin America. Very little attention

in Christianity and democratisation
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time of the French Revolution up until the mid-twentieth century the Church remained a strong opponent of both democracy and some of its key features – freedom of conscience, expression, and pluralism in general. In response to the changing circumstances created by the rise of fascism and, more importantly by communism, as well as under the influence of men like John Courtney Murray and Jacques Maritain who pointed to the advantages of pluralism from a Catholic viewpoint, the Church gradually changed its position. At Vatican II the leaders of the tradition focused on

in Christianity and democratisation

 large number of teachers, however, did not get any specific training at the beginning of the twentieth century.13 The college in Marlborough Street closed down when the Irish Free State was founded, and after Partition only the denominational training centres remained in the South. Two of the Catholic training colleges have since closed, but two more were established in the course of the twentieth century, so there remain five centres in the Republic of 14 14 S chools and the politics of religion and diversity Ireland, all privately owned but funded by the State.14 Four

in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland

on the administration of George W. Bush is in danger of changing the very nature of American democracy and pushing it in a more ‘theocratic’ direction. What is now on offer, some suggest, goes beyond the vaguely Protestant ‘civil religion’ that characterised American public life during much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and seeks to impose a single vision of truth on a pluralist America – though arguably, the very vocal and visible presence of the Christian Right disguises the far more influential role played by business interests in the Bush

in Christianity and democratisation
The place of religion

contemporary conceptions of Irish identity in the Republic of Ireland would require more space than I can devote to it here. In order to set the scene so that a presentation and discussion of education policies may be understood within that framework, two quotations borrowed from Brian Walker and dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century will help illustrate and put in perspective the contemporary debate on Irish identity. In 1909, Robert Lynd, author of a book on family life in Ireland, gave the following definition of ‘the real Irishman’: What is an Irishman

in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland

In the first part of his 1991 book, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century , Samuel Huntington asks the question, ‘What changes in plausible independent variables in most probably the 1960s and 1970s produced the dependent variable, democratizing regime changes in the 1970s and 1980s?’ In response he suggests that there were essentially five key changes: the deepening legitimacy problems of authoritarian regimes, the unprecedented global economic growth of the 1960s which greatly expanded the middle class, changes

in Christianity and democratisation

the twentieth century.10 Indeed, the more defensive position that the proponents of Catholic schools in Ireland have found themselves in as a result of the profound cultural changes in Irish society as a whole has led them to feel the need to formalise their conception of the Catholic school and give explicit shape to the nature and missions of these schools. The declining influence of the Catholic Church,11 the significant decline in the number of members of religious orders involved in education and their replacement by lay school heads and teachers, have led

in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland

revival at the beginning of the twentieth century, its spread in many parts of the globe quickly took on a local character and in many countries the role of external missionary activity was minimal. The more recent expansion that has occurred since the 1970s has been far more significant numerically, with some sources claiming that up to 500 million of the world’s population can now be described as Pentecostal, a figure that represents perhaps a quarter of the world’s Christians and makes them the largest group after Roman Catholics. Almost inevitably, given the highly

in Christianity and democratisation
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Standards and Eoin Daly’s Religion, Law and the Irish State (especially Chapters 4 and 5, with a cogent analysis of inequality and school choice within the patronage model), were written by law specialists.16 In a book examining the major ideological shifts in the field of education in the Republic in the twentieth century, Denis O’Sullivan expresses surprise at the absence of a unified discourse that would take the argument on the weaknesses and drawbacks of the Irish education system to its logical conclusion.17 The present work is an attempt at bringing together the

in Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland